Russian Quantum Center (RQC) said that it is ready to collaborate with India and offer its quantum technology that will prevent hackers from breaking into bank accounts. RQC plans to offer ‘quantum cryptography’ that could propel India to the forefront of hack proof communication in sectors such as banking and national and homeland security.

“We are ready to work with Indian colleagues. It (the technology) can’t be bought from the United States as it deals with the government and security,” said Ruslan Yunusov, chief executive at RQC, in an interview.

Established by Russia’s largest global technology hub, Skolkovo in 2010, RQC conducts scientific research that could lead to a new class of technologies.These include developing ‘unbreakable cryptography’ for the banks and the government organisations. It also involves research in areas such as materials with superior properties and new systems for ultrasensitive imaging of the brain. The research is mostly funded by the government money.

The ‘Quantum cryptography’ created by RQC depends more on physics, rather than mathematics. It is based on the usage of individual particles or waves of light (photon) and their intrinsic quantum properties to develop an unbreakable cryptosystem, according to TechTarget, a technology media firm. This is feasible as “it is impossible to measure the quantum state of any system without disturbing that system,” according to TechTarget.

Mr.Yunusov, a PhD in Physics from Lomonosov Moscow State University, said that RQC is willing to collaborate as Russia and India are part of BRICS, an association of five major emerging national economies.He also mentioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that India is Russia’s ‘privileged strategic partner’. “I think if we start the work with the Indian partners, we will be supported by our governments also,” he said.

Banks hacked

Experts say that a technology like ‘quantum cryptography’ is relevant at a time when hacking targets are multiplying in India as the country goes digital. Researchers in India at cybersecurity company FireEye recently discovered phishing websites created by cybercriminals that spoof 26 Indian banks in order to steal personal information from customers. In another incident, the security of about 3.2 million debit cards got compromised in the country. Technology company Yahoo too faced a huge data breach when it discovered a hacking attack dating back to 2013 that may have affected more than one billion of its user accounts.

“If IT giants like ‘Yahoo’ are vulnerable, we can well imagine the cyber risks that banks or financial institutions can experience, with the current surge in digitisation,” said Trishneet Arora, an ethical hacker and chief executive of cybersecurity startup TAC Security, in a statement.

However, hacking attacks cannot only be performed using normal computers. Mr.Yunusov of RQC said that as ‘quantum computers’ get sufficiently powerful they would be able to easily decrypt today’s internet communication. Quantum computers exist today but are experimental, small and include only few quantum bits. Companies like Google, IBM, Intel and Microsoft are already working on it. This year Google announced that it is working on protecting Chrome against possible attacks of quantum computers. The search giant is doing this by deploying post-quantum cryptography in an experimental version of the browser.

Quantum key distribution

The traditional encryption depends on transmitting a decryption key along with the secret information. The recipient then uses that key for deciphering that secret data. But hackers can clone this key and steal the information.

To address this problem the most promising application of quantum cryptography is Quantum key distribution (QKD). RQC said that two users can establish QKD session, that allows them to obtain a random private key. QKD is distinct as it encrypts this key on light particles called photons. A hacker trying to clone or read such a key would automatically change its state, due to fundamental principle of quantum mechanics. It would also leave a hacker fingerprint. This means the recipient and the transmitter can easily detect the attempts to read or intercept the information.

Mr.Yunusov said the QKD solution developed by the RQC was used for establishing quantum keys between two bank offices in Moscow. RQC said the developed solution can be a central point of quantum-safe infrastructure for banks, financial and governmental institutions “ensuring absolute security of communication.”