China launched the world's first quantum satellite, Nicknamed "Micius", on 16 August a year ago, to help establish "hack proof" communications.
Chinese scientists have successfully sent an unbreakable code from its quantum satellite to the Earth in what is considered to be a major breakthrough in the development of a "hack-proof" global quantum communication network. Quantum key technology is used in quantum communications to make eavesdropping impossible and to perfectly secure the communication.
The BBC also reported that China is working to establish a large ground-based network that uses quantum communication to protect messages. "To increase the coverage, we plan to send satellites to higher orbits and construct a satellite constellation, which requires developing many new technologies".
Today, encryptions are based on traditional mathematics. Quantum computing now promises to eliminate the threat through quantum key distribution, a more advanced encryption technology that ensures the safety of confidential files. QKD uses photons to transmit data, allowing two users in different places to, together, produce a common string of random bits called a secret key.
"Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure ... to encrypt (and decrypt) a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel".
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Data transmission rates possible with satellites are about 20 orders of magnitude more efficient that fibre-optic cables, Jianwei Pan, lead scientist on the Chinese project, told Reuters.
"Satellite-based quantum key distribution can be linked to metropolitan quantum networks where fibers are sufficient and convenient to connect numerous users within a city over 100 km".
The curious laws of the quantum realm dictate that any attempt to measure these key properties irrevocably changes them. The tech would also make it far more hard for governments to spy on private communications - something that global leaders and agencies around the world have a vested interest in. "The establishment of a reliable and efficient space-to-ground link for faithful quantum state transmission paves the way to global-scale quantum networks".
China is still lagging behind the United States and Russian Federation when it comes to space technology.