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All-optical Encryption Tech Improves Data Security

All-optical Encryption Tech Improves Data Security

February 3, 2020

Robotics & High-Tech

The Times of Israel — Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) unveiled the first all-optical “stealth” encryption technology that is more secure and private for the transmission of highly sensitive financial, medical or social media-related information.

Prof. Dan Sadot

“The innovative breakthrough is that if you can’t detect it, you can’t steal it,” said Prof. Dan Sadot, chair of the Cathedra for Electro-optics at BGU who heads the team that has developed the technology.

“Because an eavesdropper can neither read the data nor even detect the existence of the transmitted signal, our optical stealth transmission provides the highest level of privacy and security for sensitive data applications.”

Today, information that is transmitted on the internet is encrypted to protect the privacy and safety of the data by using digital techniques. However, high-powered computers and government agencies like the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and other bodies can decode and access information by breaking the encryption codes, explained Prof. Sadot.

Also, until now, hackers who want to access hidden data can easily detect information being transferred on the internet and record it — even without understanding the information in real-time — and then work offline on decoding the information at a later stage. And, in the future, the advent of quantum computers will see the creation of strong and fast machines that will be able to break all of the existing encryption codes. Thus, a different data security paradigm had to be found, explained Sadot.

The new technology was presented at the Cybertech Global Tel Aviv conference held on January 28-30, 2020 in Tel Aviv. What the BGU researchers have come up with is an “end-to-end solution providing encryption, transmission, decryption, and detection optically instead of digitally,” Sadot said.

Using standard optical equipment, the researchers have managed to make data transmission undetectable and “stealthy,” and have overcome the drawbacks of digital encryption. They did this by taking information — either already encrypted or not — and spreading the data over several light waves in fiber optic cables — which are the most common method today used for transmitting data, Sadot said.

To add an extra level of security the researchers also used a commercially available so-called “phase mask,” which changes the phase (color) of each wavelength. The optical phase mask cannot be recorded and worked on offline, said Sadot.

Prof. Sadot suggested that clients of the technology could be companies that make transmitters or receivers, or network infrastructure vendors, or users of cloud systems and data centers, like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

BGN, the University’s technology-transfer company, is now seeking an industry partner to implement and commercialize the technology.

Read more on The Times of Israel website >>