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The Unhackable Internet: How it could change the future of the Internet

 

Author – Alina Thomas Thanangadan

 

The Unhackable Internet: How it could change the future of the Internet

In today’s fast-paced world, where almost everything has been shifted onto a global digital platform like the internet, the risk has been increasing exponentially. Undoubtedly the internet is one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century. However, it comes with a lot of flaws as its users are frequently victims of threat. What or who poses a threat to us on the internet? Patently, it’s the hackers. The unauthorized access to a network or a computer with a motive of stealing information, data or files is called hacking. And, why is hacking dangerous? Simply because hackers could harm their targets by destroying important information.

Hence, it is essential to have something which helps us feel safe while on the internet. The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it is developing something called the ‘unhackable internet’ or ‘quantum internet’. This could revolutionize the entire security system once it comes into effect. So, what is the unhackable internet? On what principle does the unhackable internet work? Why is this important in the years to come? Is the ‘unhackable internet’ truly unhackable? These are a few things that we need to ponder over. 

In the past few years, we have seen a significant development when it comes to internet security, despite which we are still not immune to hacking. Ever since the shift onto the digital platform, there has been an increase in demand for security. So how can the unhackable internet be helpful to us? But, before that, there is yet another primary question. What is the unhackable internet? The unhackable internet is an internet-based on quantum physics which will help enable secure communication. The U.S. DoE also said that with the coming of the quantum internet, we would be able to see a rapid increase in speed. As of now, it doesn’t look like an immediate replacement for the classic internet. It is more focused on working as a supplementary network for the various industries like banking, health, national security interest etc.

The U.S. DoE explained in one of its statements that it works through two quantum phenomena. One being quantum entanglement, the second one, quantum superposition. Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which the quantum state of each particle in a pair cannot be elucidated independently even when a massive distance separates them. This phenomenon is critical for the quantum internet. If hackers tamper with communication, it could change the entanglement, thereby revealing their existence. Quantum entanglements are said to be highly fragile and can on its own only travel a few hundred kilometres. Hence we need the help of quantum repeaters. Quantum repeaters play a vital role in the distribution of quantum states over large distances, which is essential in the case of quantum networks.

The second phenomena, quantum superposition is when a quantum system exists in multiple quantum states simultaneously. This aids in making the information shared across a quantum network extra secure. Information is put into code into the entangled photon pairs which are in superposition. This means that quantum bits 0 and 1 co-exist. These photons could be a combination of two separate polarizations. Due to rapid communication, quantum internets would be faster than current networks.

When it comes to the question of being completely unhackable, Paul Dabbar, U.S. Under Secretary for Science, said that the quantum internet brings the country “one step closer to a completely secure internet.” This shows that the unhackable internet is not truly unhackable, but has more advanced security than the classic internet.

The unhackable internet does pose a certain amount of challenge, but it is fascinating to learn that many are working towards its development. Evidently, the coming decade may help us witness numerous breakthroughs on the technological front, the unhackable internet being one among the many great inventions. In my opinion, this could prove to be a groundbreaking technology as it would solve one of the most anticipated threats of hacking, thereby leaving the internet more safe and secure than before.

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Alina Thomas Thanangadan

Author
Rajagiri School of Engineering & Technology

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