​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.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

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

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

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

US conduct regarding Taiwan evinces a dangerous and ignorant strain...

It underestimates the role of face-saving, which is central to Chinese culture, and the country’s priorities, such as attaining the Chinese Dream

Eskom: Stage two load-shedding tonight

Continued blackouts highly likely on Wednesday and Thursday, the energy entity added

MPs dismiss Mkhwebane’s call to subpoena Ramaphosa

The president’s evidence is not necessary to determine whether she is guilty of misconduct, the section 194 committee concludes

Marikana: There should have been disciplinary proceeding, says Ian Farlam

The chair of the commission of inquiry says a personal apology from Cyril Ramaphosa would help families of the dead to heal

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…