China edges ahead in the race to build hack-proof cyber security systems

August 21, 2016

The international power struggle for the control of data has intensified with a number of Chinese companies now trying to challenge entrenched cloud vendors such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

The growing market, targeted by Chinese players such as Huawei, Alibaba and Baidu, has raised serious questions about security of data storage and whether tech firms in China or elsewhere are vulnerable to attack.

China last week took a major step towards resolving the cyber security challenge by launching the world’s first “hack-proof” quantum satellite.

“The satellite’s two-year mission will be to develop ‘hack-proof’ quantum communications, allowing users to send messages securely,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, or Quess, satellite programme is part of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s space programme.

“There’s been a race to produce a quantum satellite, and it is very likely that China is going to win that race,” Nicolas Gisin, a professor and quantum physicist at the University of Geneva, told The Wall Street Journal. “It shows again China’s ability to commit to large and ambitious projects and to realise them.”

The satellite is designed to secure messages between Beijing and Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, a sprawling region of deserts and snow-capped mountains in China’s extreme west.

The technology is extremely complex and based on the scientific principle of quantum entanglement.

According to this theory, two particles become “entangled” when they interact. However, any subsequent interaction with one impacts, instantaneously and regardless of distances between them, on both particles. “It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it,” Xinhua reported after Tuesday’s launch.

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