​Hackers will find life a little harder as Chinese satellite safeguard communications

Text and email messages can be read, regardless of advances in encryption. The world woke up to this fact when Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which intelligence agencies were snooping on private conversations.

Normally only the two respective ends of a conversation have the key to decode it. But if someone steals that key, the participants have no idea that someone is listening to them. Since Snowden’s revelations, innovations such as end-to-end encryption have tried to keep messages secret.

This week, China launched its first quantum satellite. This carries quantum key distribution technology, which uses pairs of photons — light particles wrapped into each other — to send information between two people. If someone tries to eavesdrop on that conversation, the photons react by popping. There’s no decoding, no finding out the secret passphrase.

If the test works, secure communication might be one step ahead of hackers for a brief spell of time.

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Sipho Kings
Sipho Kings is the acting editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

How to keep SAA, PetroSA, Eskom away from politicians

The state capture report reveals a governance crisis at state-owned entities. Experts weigh in on how this came to be and what to do about it.

Five-year drama over Sassa cleaning deal

Welfare agency allegedly bent procurement process to suit a contractor previously found guilty of collusion, and preferred bidder Corporate Cleaning wants damages paid

Sars whistleblower Van Loggerenberg suffers ‘suspicious’ home invasion

The break-in comes a week after that at the home of fellow whistleblower and Zondo commission witness Themba Maseko

Zuma takes another legal tilt at Zondo

The former president is asking the Pretoria high court to declare Zondo’s tenure as chairman of the commission of inquiry unlawful and to order Ramaphosa to appoint a new chair

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…