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DTU’s Quantum Communication Research Applied to Transfer Danske Bank’s Data

Cybercriminals have used the pandemic as an opportunity to expose businesses with weak cybersecurity. However, tech engineers and researchers have been working against them, and have made a break through in quantum communication technology’s application in finance: researchers from DTU (Denmarks Technical University) successfully transferred data at Danske Bank using this tech. 

Many years’ work developing secure quantum communication at DTU has culminated in researchers, in collaboration with consultancy firm KPMG, successfully transferring data between two of Danske Bank’s computers that simulate data centres.

The demonstration which has just been completed is promising for future data security and society’s race against cybercriminals. The event marked the first data transfer in the Nordics secured by quantum keys on a network outside a laboratory.

“We are very proud to help the researchers reach this milestone and at the same time gain first-hand experience of quantum-safe data transfer, which potentially has great significance for the future security of digital communication,” said Lance McGrath, Chief Security Officer at Danske Bank. He elaborated, “As a bank, we have a responsibility to constantly seek new ways to protect our customers’ data and ensure that we are a step ahead of the criminals in the tech arms race.”

Data protected by the laws of physics

The technology used is ‘continuous-variable quantum key distribution’ (CV-QKD). Developed at DTU, it enables the creation and sharing of secure encryption keys with the help of standard telecom fibre optics. Therefore, it can be used in the bank’s network and eventually in other critical infrastructures where security is paramount.

“Our approach is different and instead uses the fundamental unpredictability and randomness of quantum mechanics as the source of security. This way we create the foundation for data transfers that are impossible to hack unless you break the laws of physics.” Tobias Gehring, Associate professor, DTU Department of Physics.

“Data security using standard encryption methods is based on great mathematical complexity. You can think of it as a calculation where the solution is very difficult to find but, conversely, where it is very easy to check whether a solution is correct.” He continued, “our approach is different and instead uses the fundamental unpredictability and randomness of quantum mechanics as the source of security. This way we create the foundation for data transfers that are impossible to hack unless you break the laws of physics. Our technology exploits quantum physics to provide the sender and receiver with the keys they need to encrypt and decrypt their data while ensuring that no one else has knowledge of the keys.”

Everyone should quantum-secure their data transfers

KPMG has contributed with both financing and technological assistance to the quantum-safe data transfer experiment at Danske Bank – and according to KPMG  we should all begin to quantum-secure our data transfers:

“The incredible power of quantum computers could easily break the encryption our entire digital society is built on. It underlines the importance of projects like these that take the first steps towards securing our data from hacking in a future that will become reality within the next ten years,” says Bent Dalager, partner in KPMG’s newtech department.

Author

  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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