Quantum communications could soon allow secure communications that is faster and more convenient than one time pads.
Physicists have demonstrated the distribution of three entangled photons at three different locations (Alice, Bob and Charlie) several hundreds of meters apart, proving quantum nonlocality for more than two entangled photons.
Quantum key distribution (QKD) uses quantum mechanics to guarantee secure communication. It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages. It is often incorrectly called quantum cryptography, as it is the most well known example of the group of quantum cryptographic tasks.
How much does this matter when personnel security management at top secret facilities have Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and Russian and Foreign spies running around inside ?
The US and other countries have lost the discipline of keeping and managing secrets. Securing and encrypting communication lines does not matter when information is leaking like a sieve elsewhere.
The pipes may get secured to have no holes but the bathtub and sinks are leaking and contractors are told to connect the plumbing to enemy houses.
There is also the money in book deals, movie deals and tell-alls to television and internet media.
1. The US and many countries have too many things labeled secret that are not
2. If something really needs to be kept secret then you have to put in the effort to manage it as a real secret with compartmentalization
3. The secret keeping people have to recognize the money that can be easily made from movie and book deals for certain kinds of secrets
We’re not talking about real spies, recruited to betray their country, trained in their tradecraft, successful at hiding within our system for years. Edward Snowden isn’t Aldrich Ames or John Walker. He was a low-level functionary who nevertheless managed to steal and reveal massive amounts of secret information. His leaks caused enormous damage to national security, unveiling in great detail some of the methods and means by which the National Security Agency gathers intelligence.
Snowden’s most famous leak was of the NSA’s “PRISM” program, which, with the cooperation of most Internet service providers, enables the monitoring of emails, searches, file transfers, and more. He also leaked the top secret “XKeyscore” program with which NSA analysts can search through databases, emails, and browsing histories of individuals. The leaked papers describe, in high detail, how “XKeyscore” works.
He further revealed secret decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. These classified legal opinions, we now know, sometimes expand what the NSA can do and sometimes question the truthfulness of what the Justice Department tells the court. They detail much of the NSA’s reach.
He leaked documents detailing our intelligence community’s dealings with those of other nations, including a top-secret memorandum laying out in considerable detail the methods by which the NSA cooperates with its Israeli counterpart.
And there’s more. Snowden leaked the entire intelligence budget of the United States, one of the few secrets Congress has managed to keep, which shows how much money is spent by all the intelligence agencies, not just the NSA. If you’re at all familiar with these agencies’ operations, you can generally interpolate, from the cost of satellites and launch services and such, the budget numbers into specific programs.
Much of the information classified as top secret is supposed to be compartmentalized. Though many people know bits and pieces about how something works or what is being done, only a very few know the whole picture. For example, a new top-secret aircraft program such as the F-117 was once known to be researched and built by small teams of people at the Lockheed Skunk Works. But only their bosses and the top dogs among their CIA and Air Force customers knew what the aircraft was capable of doing. Back then, the F-117 program—like “PRISM” and “XKeyscore” today—was known only by code name, “Have Blue.”
The point of compartmentalization is to prevent a single low-level person, such as Snowden, from gaining enough knowledge to reveal all or even most of the big secrets about the program. From the leaked documents, we can see that the programs themselves were classified top secret but not compartmentalized. We know that because the documents don’t bear the “top secret: sensitive compartmented information” label.
The [most likely] possibility is that Snowden’s defection to Russia and leaks to the media were enabled by the kind of soft-brained idiocy—the kind of failed leadership and mismanagement—that we’ve come to expect from the federal bureaucracy. Regardless of whether such incompetence is the main reason, no one ever seems to have pointed out the obvious: No lowly computer geek such as Snowden should have access to all these programs. Each one—PRISM, XKeyscore, the black budget, the court decisions, the memos on intelligence cooperation—was of enormous significance. In combination, they appear to be the “crown jewels” of the NSA.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.