Do you see the key?

If a code is really good, it doesn’t matter much if the enemy (you know, them) gets ahold of one of your encrypted messages. What is risky, is letting your code key fall into the wrong hands. And their delivery is often the weak link in a communications network. “At the moment, highly secure encryption keys are typically sent by a man on a motorbike or a guy with a diplomatic bag,” notes one wonk. But researchers have devised a way to deliver keys using a beam of light, attaching data to individual photons as they stream from sender to receiver. The neat thing about that is if the light beam is intercepted and read, the state of the photons changes, alerting the recipient that the key has been compromised. Thursday British researchers said they’d reached a new milestone in the distance they can send encryption keys this way: 14 miles. It doesn’t sound like much, but it sure beats the few feet the technique could muster just a couple years ago. Expect earth-to-satellite distances soon.

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