Could Quantum Computers Overcome the Encryption Keys that Police Use to Prevent Eavesdropping on Police Communications?

Motorola, the main supplier of encrypted radios for police departments has reported for years that it is impossible to break their 256-bit key Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) feature. Their claim is that encryption keys are very complex and can change daily. Claims are made that breaking the AES 256 code with brute force could take many years well beyond the lifetime of a human — even with multiple supercomputers. It’s also illegal to break the code and eavesdrop on the police radio talkgroups. Most police departments in the northwest suburbs use AES 256 encrypted radios.

In cryptography, a brute-force attack involves systematically checking all possible keys until the correct key is found. For cryptographers, a cryptographic “break” is anything faster than a brute-force attack – i.e., performing one trial decryption for each possible key in sequence. In 2017 there is no known method to practically break 256-bit keys in the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) system — by brute force or any other type of attack.

Scientists working on manipulation of light energy states might have discovered the route to computers that could be exponentially more powerful than supercomputers.

Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a tool to generate new, more complex states of light. Researchers have found a way to spin light into complex states that promise breakthroughs in multiple uses in a variety of disciplines. Two kinds of light momentum (orbital angular and spin angular) were created utilizing the polarization of light that can direct light into corkscrews, spirals and fork-like shapes. A practical application could be the development of the elusive quantum computer. The Harvard research team is wondering if these complex light states can help reach the goal of processing quantum optics and data, which could help quantum computers become a practical reality. Separate from light manipulation, other researchers, working together from the United States and the United Kingdom, have reported working on manipulating subatomic particles for the goal of quantum data storage.

A discrete quantity of energy proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents with a unit known as a qubit, which can be in two states simultaneously.

Quantum computers are different from existing binary digital electronic computers based on transistors, which requires that data be encoded into binary digits (bits) — two definite (one or the other) states of 0 or 1. Quantum computation uses quantum bits, which can be in superpositions of states. As of 2017, the development of actual quantum computers is still in its infancy, but experiments have been carried out in which quantum computational operations were executed on a very small number of quantum bits. Practical and theoretical research is underway, and many national governments and military agencies are funding quantum computing research for the development of quantum computers for civilian, business, trade, and environmental applications. Quantum computers are also expected to be important for national security purposes, such as cryptanalysis used to breach cryptographic security systems and gain access to the contents of encrypted messages, even if the cryptographic key is unknown.

Microsoft is already working on coding language for the future quantum computers. The coding language doesn’t have a name yet.

Imagine the gains in applied technology with an exponential increase in computer power for DNA analysis, disease detection, robotics, synthesis of organs, molecular medicine, and discovery and manufacture of new materials.

Of course, by the time quantum laptop computers are available for consumer, the current police radio systems will probably have been obsolete for a long time, and a new standard of encryption based on quantum computing or alternate inaccessible systems may be developed.

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