An encryption technology breakthrough
Encryption is an essential security tool that somehow seems more widespread than it actually is.
For years, encryption adoption has been said to be on the rise, only to be followed by a massive breach of data. People then hit themselves on the side of their heads and say, "why didn't we encrypt that data."
The latest example is the South Carolina Department of Revenue breach, which laid bare that for whatever reason the department did not encrypt social security numbers, about 3.8 million of which were stolen. I note this incident again to preface an apparent breakthrough that has the potential to drive adoption of more encryption---in the far future anyway.
According to the New York Times, "Scientists at Toshiba and Cambridge University have perfected a technique that offers a less expensive way to ensure the security of the high-speed fiber optic cables that are the backbone of the modern Internet. The research...describes a technique for making infinitesimally short time measurements needed to capture pulses of quantum light hidden in streams of billions of photons transmitted each second in data networks. Scientists used an advanced photodetector to extract weak photons from the torrents of light pulses carried by fiber optic cables, making it possible to safely distribute secret keys necessary to scramble data over distances up to 56 miles."
So that means essentially that you can send key information over the same network as the encrypted data. Several commercially available quantum key distribution systems exist, but the security of the system relies on "transmitting the quantum key separately from communication data, frequently in a separate optical fiber."
By sending the quantum key with the data, you can achieve some cost benefits that just might prove significant someday. This will not by itself lead faster encryption adoption in the here and now. But as more companies and other entities move to more encryption, the innovation is heartening. -Jim