1) And God said let there be... tutorial
This essay can be little out of usual hacking/cracking topic, but I wanted
to present you a new technologies that are now used. Also, this tutorial has
a 'growing intension' so it will be updated at time to time. The needing for
update is mainly here because of need for better explanation because it's hard
topic even to those that are familiar with quantum physics and this tutorial
is not written for people that are familiar with quantum physics and will give
you only basic idea about quantum cryptography. I would be very thankful for
any suggestion how to make this tutorial better and clearer because it's very
hard to explain some details of quantum theory to people that are not familiar
with it. I will be most satisfied if this tutorial can read even my grandmother
and get something from it.
2) Classical heaven => Quantum hell
Ok, so let's get to basics of quantum theory. First, let me explain the term
'quantum'. As a more careful observer can notice the close relative to
the word quantum is a word quantity. At the very beginning of this century physicists
noticed that there is something wrong with the classical theory, to be
more precise, they've noticed that their perspective of the fundamental particles
they had are not matching the experimental results they got. The logical conclusion
was that there is something wrong with the classical idea they had about atom.
Max Planck therefore has introduced the new approach to the matter.
In the classical physics, electron orbiting (orbiting around is also relative
term, I'll explain it little bit later) around the core or the atom could have
any possible energy, and related to this, could orbit around the core at any
possible distance. The problem with that vision was that because the electron
is negative charged and core, because consisted of positive protons and neutral
neutrons, was positive charged it was expected that electron would collapse
into core for about 0.0000000001 sec (because of different charges, core attracts
The answer was that electron can't have any energy while orbiting around core,
energy of electron is quanted. This means that electron has strongly
defined possible energies, and can orbit only on some distances around atom.
To be more precise, even that is not definitely true, the electron is not orbiting
exactly around orbits, orbits are only defining the place where is best possibility
to find electron. Confused? You should be... at least shocked if you've never
heard about it.
This brings us to the rather confusing and paradoxal world of quantum mechanics
(quantum mechanics - one of parts of physics dealing with the phenomena of the
small world, basically it research the movement of the particles, parallel to
ordinary mechanics in classical world, but much wider). In world of quantum
mechanic we are not talking about the exact value, but the possible value. To
make it more clear, say you want to find the place where is the particle you're
especially interested in, you won't be able to find the exact spot an
say here it is, what you'll get will be something like beaver that had car accident...
one relatively wide circle darkest in the center... That center is the place
where is the greatest probability to find the particle, but not necessary the
place where particle really is. That is consequence of our impossibility to
make perfect measurement. In our world of 'big' objects, measurements we take
are good enough to say 'beaver was 1.5m long' (hmmm... long beaver), but if
you look more careful 1.5m could be 1.485755432m or 1.49532221m or 1.5000000m,
do you get the point, what is behind? You always have error in measurement.
In the world of small object, measurements are so sensitive that you can't
for instance measure the position and impulse (impulse is product of mass
and speed, it determines the movement) of particle, that is for one of fundamentals
of quantum mechanic. Of great importance is to understand that physics is based
on measurement, not on the theory.
So let us make conclusion... Quantum mechanic is dealing with 'small' world
of atoms and fundamental particles, while classical physics founded mainly by
Isaac Newton is dealing with the 'big' world of beavers... In quantum world
all observables (things that we can measure) have discrete values (that means
that you can't have any value of observable, for instance, electron can't have
any energy while orbiting around atom), and we can speak only about probability
for real events... there are many more rules, but these are one of the basic.
If you want to know more, you can take some of many good quantum mechanics books,
but watch... be sure that you're good with linear algebra and you've been through
the higher courses of math, or avoid books with equations.
3) ...and God also said let there be light
We've now been through the basics of quantum mechanics, don't give up... I
have to explain to you some facts about light also before I get to the point.
The phenomena of matter is that it's constructed from smaller parts. The smallest
ones that we know that build all other bigger constructions of nature, like
atoms and molecules we call fundamental particles. What physicists
have found was that particles are not particles in a sense of marbles that are
wondering around, but they are also waves. Let me break one more illusion for
you. Particles are not looking like balls, as the matter of fact you can't say
that particle has any shape. If someone shows you a picture of a black blurred
ball, and tells you: "it's the picture of electron", he is probably
showing you a picture of energy distribution of electron (... huh it doesn't
matter, it's just not the picture of exact particle, remember that with probability?
It's that story). What I'm pointing at? In this 'quantum cryptography' play
main role is played by light, so I have to say something about light and terms
like polarization and phase shift. Let me explain that wave-particle
thing. You've probably heard for photons, and you've probably heard for electro-magnetic
waves. See the usual picture of electromagnetic wave (E - electrical field,
B - magnetic field, x-some direction the light is traveling)
Well that are two views on the same thing we call light. The light has really
bad manners, I could say the light is acting little bit schizophrenic. It determines
of the measure we take, we can see that light is acting like electro-magnetic
wave, or that the light is made of particles we call photons. No, it's not like
water, where we have great amount of particles that interact and make waves
we can see. This is result of fundamental organization of nature that we call
duality. I will stop at this moment with further explanations why is this that
way. Yes there is deeper reason, but... let us stop here ok?
Let me now explain terms polarization and phase shift. Do you see that x axis? It the one represented with the long black line in the middle of graphic. Well, why couldn't you rotate other two axes around it? There is not any reason why you couldn't rotate the whole picture around that axis. Let us suppose we have two waves of same wavelength (oh yes, this is the one more flavors of light, actually that is the value that determines the energy of wave, and this value determines is this a radio wave, normal visible light, x - ray, gamma ray etc.), and let them travel the same path x. But what about that other two axes E and B? One wave must have axes E and B at the constant angle 90 degrees (you'll also see in further text expressions like Pi, Pi/2, that is the other way to mark the angles, Pi = 180 degrees, yes that is the same one Pi = 3.14... Ok, now you know you can rotate those two axes E and B around axis x and what you can do with it? If you for instance take some arbitrary position of vectors E and B, let it be position of axes you can see in figure 1 on the picture bellow:
If you take positions of vectors E and B like on figure 1 as the arbitrary
(polarization is not definitive term, there is not existing absolute position
of vectors E and B but you must first define some arbitrary position of
vectors E and B and then consider the term of polarization), you can see if
you look a little bit closer on figure 2 that vectors E and B are rotated for
90 degrees anticlockwise (or, you can also say rotated for Pi/2). We now can
finally define the term of polarization. You can say that the electro-magnetic
wave on figure 2 is polarized for 90 degrees (of course, compared to our arbitrary
polarization on figure 1). Even one photon, if we consider particle side of
light, can be polarized, why? Because, as I've explained before, the light is
booth particle and wave, and even one photon can be considered also for wave
(sorry, not further explanations for now...), and you can also say that photon
is polarized at some angle. When you use some light source like bulb you have
electro-magnetic waves of all possible angles of polarizations. You can get
especially polarized light at some angle with the piece of equipment called
Now there is only one term left to define, phase shift. You could see
on the picture above (one 3D picture) that function that describe electro-magnetic
wave really looks like wave. That is Sine function, and you can see that is
periodical function. Now I will tell you that period of this function is 360
degrees or 2Pi. That 'periodical' means that the function is repeating it's
image after some value x. Look now on the picture bellow:
You can see that the green and red functions are the same one function, but
shifted on the x axis. To be more precise i will say that equation for red function
is Sin(x) and equation for green function is Sin(x+Pi/4). I can now say that
green function is phase shifted for Pi/4 (45 degrees) considering red
function. Same thing is for electromagnetic wave because electromagnetic wave
is described with sine function (that is one of possible ways to describe electromagnetic
wave, but for purpose of this tutorial this is good enough).
4) To those that are still with us...
Now that are basic terms of physics needed for purpose of further reading explained,
we can now pass to the basic topic of this text, and this is (in case you already
forgot it by now) quantum cryptography and its advantages compared to normal
cryptography. This long beginning was not mainly there in purpose of explanation
of quantum cryptography itself, but in purpose of explaining how the information
is distributed. The main reason why quantum crypto is so impressive is
that there is used one of the fundamentals of physics in very practical way.
Let's turn our eyes now on standard crypto systems, because they are roots
of quantum cryptography. We could define cryptography as the art of hiding information
in a string of bits that are meaningless to any unauthorized party. To succeed
in our task to hide information we usually use an algorithm to combine message
with some additional information that we usually call key to produce
cryptogram. This technique is called encryption.
Yeah, I know that most of you heard this story before, but I must make things
clear here, so have patience and you will be rewarded, maybe. The thing you
probably don't know if you are newbie into cryptography and information theory
is that person that encrypts is traditionally called Alice and
person that receives a message is traditionally called Bob (that
mainly stands for A and B). Just look at the picture.
My sympathy in this story goes to character that is traditionally called Eve.
That is the evil one, Eve stands for eavesdropper. As the word says that is
the one that intercepts the information that Alice sends to Bob. Eve is that
unauthorized, malevolent person we usually call cracker. As I've said before,
just look at the picture.
Yes, now we have complete picture of problem that we are dealing
with. Public channel is usual channel we use to distribute information like
phone lines, optical cable, internet, maybe power lines in the recent future,
For any crypto-system to be secure, it should be impossible
to unlock cryptogram without Bob's key. This in practice is softened to that
the system is just extremely difficult to crack. The main idea is that the message
should remain protected as long as the information message contain is valuable
(that explain why is DES for instance, crackable at all). Crypto-systems are
divided in two main classes. This depends on wether key is shared in secret
or public. I will give you two examples, one for every group; "one-time"
pad and RSA, exposing their qualities, and disabilities.
5) "One-time" pad vs. RSA in normal cryptography
"One time" pad
This system was proposed by Gilbert Vernam at AT&T in 1935
(quite old system, I must say), involve sharing a secret key and is the only
crypto-system that provides proven, perfect secrecy. In this case Alice encrypts
a message using a randomly generated key and then simply adds each bit of the
message to the corresponding bit of the key. The scrambled message is then sent
to Bob, who decrypts the message by subtracting the same key. It can be seen
Normally, encrypted text doesn't contain any information until
you use key. Although perfectly secure, the problem with this systemis that
is essential that Alice and Bob share common secret key, which must be at
least as long as the message itself. They can also use the key for single
encryption (that explains name 'one-time' pad), because if they used key
more than once Eve could record allof the scrambled messages and start to
build picture of the key. The real trouble starts here. If they want to
share same key, then key must be transmitted by some trusted means, such
as courier or through personal meeting between Alice and Bob. Yeah, now
begins a story of espionage... etc. I can think a couple of thousand problems
here, ranging from authentication problems, expensive meeting, eavesdropping,
etc... I believe you can think even more of them due it's 3am now that I'm
writing this. It's same with net, let me just mention IP-spoofing. Got it?
I believe you do. The good thing is that if Eve would like to crack message,
not knowing the key, she would have to try all combinations, and yet not
knowing which was right.
RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adleman)
RSA belongs to other class of crypto-systems, so called "public-key
crypto-systems". First public-key crypto-systems were proposed in 1976
by Whithfield Diffie and Martin Hellman who were at Stanford University then.
They used so called one-way functions in which is easy to compute the
function, for instance, f(x) (that means that we have some function depending
on some variable x) but they are hard to compute in other way. In way to define
what is meant by 'hard to compute in other way' we can for instance take time
as a factor, the good one crypto-system could be one that a time to do a task
grows exponentially with the number of bits used to encrypt. For example we
can take breaking number on prime factors. Let me show it this way, you can
work out that 109*59 is 6431, but it would take much longer time to us to find
out that the prime factors of 6431 are 59 and 109.
However, some of these one way functions have a so called "trapdoor",
which means there is easy way to compute function in difficult direction with
some additional information, in this case key or password. So if you for instance
know that one prime factor of 6431 is 59, it's not hard to calculate other prime
factor. RSA is based on that function I've explained above. It is believed today,
but there is not any strong theory, that the time needed to find prime factors
of an integer, and to obtain private key, grows exponentially with the number
of input bits. There could be major security hole here if someone finds out
that there is faster way to calculate prime factors, the problems are enlarging
with the fact that the most money transactions security systems are based on
RSA. Hey... brakes here, lamer alarm (only for those of you that need it) ...
Don't think that you'll find out the way to factorize prime numbers, and break
into Wall-Street server in about 10 minutes, all with loud music causing brainstorm
in you head (that looks like that idiotic description of hackers, seen so often
on media)... Generations of mathematicians (and yes there are some much more
intelligent than me and you together) dedicated their careers to that task,
and all this story draws it's roots from Fermat I think, all back to 19-th century
so... just don't blame yourself, ok. If you wish to dedicate your lives to science,
just forget that picture of Albert Einstein developing his special theory of
relativity for one long weekend when his wife had PMS and the couldn't do anything
else, OK? Hacking is science and art, like mathematics or physics (and programming,
off course), and it takes long, long time, and great dedication. I'll pull water
now, and continue this topic...
Ok, what means public crypto-system at all. Well that means that
you with one key you make (pass that you type), you get two keys, public and
private. Looks like good bargain to me. You can share public key with the all
world, and they can encrypt message with it, but once the message is encrypted
only, and only the owner of private key can read it. Also, when you send message
that you've encrypted with private key (you keep it for yourself, that's what
that private means), that message will be decrypted with public key, but the
public key won't decrypt any message that are is not encrypted with private
key. That explains the term digital signature. No, you can't compute private
key having public key, at least not for some reasonable time, considering, off
course, that the other side choose hard password to break.
We are getting close to topic here. There is one more reason (that
is mostly the reason for having quantum cryptography as a solution) why RSA
could became unreliable in the future. There are devices, that are only theory
now (but good one, believe me, experiments say so), that are called quantum
computers (I'll write an essay on them too, very soon), that could factorize
numbers not exponentially, but linearly with number of bits. The explanation
is in, let us say, parallel processing that is even more parallel than any other
that exists now. Yeah, it sounds stupid, and maybe I'm stupid, but I can't put
the idea of quantum computing in one sentence.
6) The last (exit).... but not least
Well, as we could see, the public crypto-systems like RSA could
become useless in the future (don't worry, you'll be grandpas by that time),
with the appearances of the first useable quantum computers (boxes in further
text). You have one possible way, and yet the simplest one, to secretly send
a message. You can always turn to secret-key systems, such as Vernam's system
described above, if you have the way to perfectly hide the secret key from Eve.
This is the exactly the moment where quantum physics enters the scene.. Bob
and Alice must share a secret key (in opposite of public-key systems), and quantum
cryptography allows two physically separated parties to create random secret
key without resorting to the services of courier. What's even better it also
allows them to verify that the key has not been intercepted. Quantum cryptography
is not therefore a totally new crypto-system, but the procedure to distribute
the key in perfect secrecy from other parties like Eve (hehehehe). So, let me
put this I've just said in few words; quantum crypto is not crypto algorithm,
but it allow a key to be securely distributed and is consequently a natural
complement to Vernam's cipher.
To understand how quantum cryptography works we can consider
the "BB84" communication protocol, which was introduced in 1984 by
Charles Bennett of IBM and Gilles Brassard from the University of Montreal.
Alice and Bob are connected by a quantum channel and a classical public channel
(see the picture above). If single photons are used to carry information the
quantum channel is usually optical fibre. The public channel, however, can be
any communication link, such as phone line or internet. Let us stop now a little
and say something about information. The information in computer world is represented
by series of 0's and 1's that assembled together in defined order present information.
That information can be anything numbers, words, pictures, we only need to know
how to interpret that binary information (binary stands for there is information
represented by series of 0 and 1, but this is really out of topic so.... sorry
I wasted eyes to those that well know that, but I felt like saying it). Well,
that 0 and 1 while traveling your phone lines is represented like some voltage.
Usually in the world of digital electronics logical 0 and 1 are represented
like 0V and 5V considering the ground (sometimes -5V and 5V, and 0V can represent
some other state). In the case of quantum channel carriers are photons and as
we could see we can use polarization and phase shift.... can you dig it? Yes,
we can define some arbitrary angles of polarization or phase shift (well do
you see now why was that story so long). In practice, the public link is also
optical fibre, with both channels differing only in the intensity of light pulses.
How this thing work?
1) First, Alice has four polarizers, which can transmit, which can transmit
single photons polarized either vertically, horizontally, at +45 degrees, or
at -45 degrees (look at the picture above). She sends a series of photons down
the quantum channel, having chosen at random one of the polarization states
for each photon (which in this case represents key, also note on pictures which
polarization angles represent 0's and 1's, IT'S NOT MISTAKE, and IT'S VERY IMPORTANT
to note so you could understand process).
2) Second, Bob has four analyzers, not two (that are devices that
can analyze polarization angle, or several angles at one time, but note, when
you put analyzer and there is single photon, if you set analyzer at some angle(s)
you will be able only to see if the photon is polarized at that angle(s) or not,
also when you perform measure once you can't measure polarization of the same
photon again with other analyzer set to measure some other angle(s), because once
you measure, the information is destroyed by measuring because of interaction
of the measuring system and system you measure, this is represented in physics
by so called projection theorem, because you project the measured system onto
system that measures, huh sounds confusing.. yeah I've told you that about quantum
mechanics, in other words this all means you can't measure ALL angles at once).
One analyzer allows Bob to distinguish between photons polarized at +45 degrees
and -45 degrees (see the picture above), and other allows him to distinguish between
horizontally and vertically polarized photons. Note that Alice has four polarizers
and Bob has only two analyzers! Also note how are 0's and 1's set by Alice. That
is crucial! What Bob does then? Well, he randomly chose one analyzer and uses
it to record each photon. He now writes down which analyzer he used and what it
recorded (if he chose wrong analyzer, he won't get any information about the state
of photon, in case you forgot, polarization is one of states of photon). For example,
if Alice sent a vertically polarized photon and Bob chose to detect photons at
+/-45 degrees. Basically if Bob chose +/-45 degrees analyzer there is 50% chance
that he will record something, elementary my dear Watson. Even if Bob finds out
later that he chose the wrong analyzer, he will have no way of finding out which
polarization state Alice sent.
3) Third, after exchanging enough photons, Bob announces on the public channel
the sequence of analyzers he used, but not the results he obtained.
4) Fourth, Alice compares this sequence with the list of bits she originally
sent, and tells Bob on the public channel on which occasions his analyzer was
compatible with the photon's polarization. She does not tell him which polarization
states she sent. If Bob used an analyzer that was not compatible with Alice's
photon, bit is simply discarded. For the bits that remain (look at the retained
bit sequence at picture), Alice an Bob know that they have the same values -
provided that the eavesdropper didn't perturb the transmission. The bits
that are left Alice and Bob can use to generate key that they will
use to encrypt the message they will send then by public channel.
Let us now see the case when there is Eve. Suppose the Eve has intercepted
both quantum and Public channel (suppose Eve cut the fibre and she set her equipment),
and of course, she sends information to Bob so her eavesdropping couldn't be
noticed. What's wrong with that picture in this case? Obviously, the disclosed
bits cannot be used for encryption anymore. If Eve intercepted their key, the
correlation between the values of their bits will have been reduced. For example
if Eve had the same equipment like Bob and cuts fibre and measures signal, she
will always get random bit whenever she chooses wrong analyzers (that is statistically
50% of all cases). But having intercepted the signal Eve still has to send a
photon to Bob to cover her tracks. Therefore, in 50% of cases Alice's and Bob's
analyzers match, but what's in case that Eve didn't used a right analyzer and
that is in 50% of cases? However in half of these cases photon will accidentally
pass through the right analyzer at Bob's side. We can see now that correlation
between Alice's and Bob's measures will drop to only 25% in presence of Eve.
In that case Alice and Bob will know that information has been intercepted,
when they compare keys over public link they will see a greater disagreement
(to be more precise, twice greater) and they will drop transmission. Simple
7) Quantum cryptography in real life
So how you can achieve quantum cryptography in practice? Photons are good candidates
to carry information, they are easy to produce and to measure. Story I've presented
for polarization can be used same for phase shift. In fact, it's more used than
polarization. What's even better they can be transmitted through the optical
fibre and over last 25 years attenuation of light (measure of how much photons
are lost during transmission) at wavelenght of 1300nm has been reduced from
several decibels per metre to just 0.35 decibels per kilometre. This means that
photons can travel up to 10km before 50% of them are lost which is sufficient
to perform quantum cryptography in local networks. Some of you with more technical
education could note that you could use an amplifier to transmit photons, but
amplifiers cannot be used because quantum states cannot be copies (in some cases
yes, in case of quantum teleportation, but this is not that case). There are
also some projects aiming to establish quantum communication from a satellite
down to earth or other satellite, but as far as I know this is not yet practice.
Of course, this is not only problem. There is always trouble with quality of
link. Uncorrelated bits may originate from several experimental imperfections.
First, Alice has to ensure that she creates photons that are exactly the states
she choose. If, for instance, a vertical photon is incorrectly polarized at
an angle 84 degrees, there is only 1% possibility that Bob will find in channel
for horizontally polarized photons. Similar problem is from Bob's side; does
he measure exactly 90 degrees. Another difficulty is ensuring that the encoded
bits are maintained during transmission. There is also one more problem, due
to the birefringence of the fibre, the polarization states received by Bob will,
in general, be different from those sent by Alice, and that also asks for calibration
of their apparatus, etc. etc.
To overcome these problems, Alice and Bob have to apply a classical error-correction
algorithm to their data so that they can reduce the errors below an error rate
of 10^(-9) (0.000000001 or one in billion) - the industry standard for digital
telecommunications. And since they cannot be sure if the presence of of uncorrelated
bits was due to the poor performance of their set-up or to an eavesdropper,
they have to assume the worst-case scenario - that all the errors were caused
by Eve. There is one procedure Alice and Bob may use known as "privacy
amplification" in which several bits are combined into one. This procedure
ensures that the combined bits correlate only if Alice and Bob's initial bits
are the same. The problem with privacy amplification is that it shortens the
key length a lot and it's only possible up to certain error. That means that
Alice and Bob have to be careful to introduce as few errors as possible when
they initially send their quantum bits.
8) Last words
In tradition of a dying tutorial I must now say something to close this text.
Well you've now been introduced to one of new technologies that are now used.
Don get caught in web... Port 80 is not only thing in communications today,
like the phone lines also aren't all. Optical communication has been used for
some 20 years, and today not only for T1 backbones. There are some other technologies
that go parallel with quantum cryptography, like quantum computing and quantum
teleportation that I will also present to you soon. I hope that you've liked
this tutorial and I hope I've make it readable. Don't be lazy read it few times
if you don't catch me (no, not because it's my tutorial) because it's confusing
and hard topic. I'll appreciate any comments and suggestions, and feel free
to ask me any question if you have it about quantum technology. You have my
mail. Thank you for your time...