Cybersecurity has come a long way over the decades, but hackers and cybersecurity experts are constantly trying to one-up each other in terms of technological sophistication and preparedness. Every time we take a major step forward in terms of reliable security, cybercriminals are there to match us.
New Technologies on the Horizon
These are some of the most promising technologies coming to keep our digital information and communications safer:
Quantum key distribution
It sounds like some kind of superpower, but as WIRED writes, quantum key distribution could be the future of encryption technology. Quantum physics involves the study of subatomic particles, which behave strangely, against our intuitions on small scales. We’re already using quantum computers, which take advantage of particles that can exist in two states at the same time (as a particle in a wave). Quantum entanglement involves two particles that affect each other’s position, even at a distance. Conventional encryption involves a lock-and-key method of creating and then cracking a code—but these can be easily copied and cracked. Quantum key distribution relies on quantum entangled particles that are virtually uncopiable—and tremendously hard to crack—but it’s still a new technology that demands refinement.
Blockchain isn’t a term familiar to many, but it’s associated with a technology that most have heard of—Bitcoin. Blockchain is a system of collaborative information storage, exchange, and retrieval that maintains a public record of ownership. It’s how Bitcoin transactions are able to take place, and remain consistent, without any single institution defining or monitoring those transactions, and without any outside interference to commit digital theft. Shaping Tomorrow predicts that within a few years, most major banks (as well as other financial-related companies like insurance institutions) will be using blockchain to greater secure their financial transactions.
One reason Snapchat became so popular is its ability to have messages self-destruct; this guarantees, to some degree, that your message won’t spread or be committed to public memory, therefore enhancing both privacy and security. Security organization PARC is now working on Disintegration Upon Stress-release Trigger, or DUST technology, that mirrors this effect. Instead of photos and videos no longer being viewable, computer chips will self-destruct after conveying their requisite information.
In the public eye for decades, biometric technology uses unique personal identifiers to ensure proper identification. For example, your phone may take a thumbprint scan before allowing you to access the data inside, or a device may scan your retina before permitting you access to a building. Since these personal identifiers are incredibly hard to mimic, especially remotely, they could greatly enhance security in a number of different areas. However, there are still a number of important hurdles to overcome before the technology can be adopted on any wide scale.