Kolkata based Srei looking to acquire quantum communication technology from Russia

Kolkata-based Srei Infrastructure Finance is currently exploring acquisition of Russian technology emerging from research in quantum communication science.

Kolkata-based Srei Infrastructure Finance is currently exploring acquisition of Russian technology emerging from research at the frontiers of science and which will shape the future of computing and cyber security. A group of Srei officials visited the Russian Quantum Centre in Moscow on 13 July, 2017 to check out technological solutions based on the principles of quantum physics that could be put to industrial use in the coming years.

In the background of recent cyber attacks that affected networks across the world, Srei is looking at purchase of quantum communication devices designed to protect crucial information and data against the upcoming threat posed by the development of quantum computing.

Quantum computing, based on the ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at any time, allows operations to be done much quicker using less energy than classical computers. However, the high cost and complexity of research, implies that industrial use of this exponentially more powerful computer is still some time away.

"Quantum computing is limited to certain computation functions, one of which is to break cryptographic codes that makes it potentially a major weapon in the hands of hackers," Alexander Lvosky, who heads the project at the Russian Quantum Center (RQC), told IANS on the sidelines of a global conference on quantum technologies organised by RQC.

He pointed out, for instance, that the value of bitcoins, which are based on classical computing, would be reduced to nothing as their security could be easily breached by the quantum computer.

It is in Moscow that the RQC has worked at a pre-emptive level to develop quantum communications, or quantum cryptography, to secure systems against the threat posed by quantum computers.

The classical blockchain technology, on which bitcoins are based for instance, permit quantum computers to falsify digital signatures, change programming and even allow network access to outsiders.

Earlier this year, Russia announced the development of the world's first quantum blockchain which allows using a quantum cryptography and quantum data transfer system to protect databases from hacking. RQC says this device will be ready for industrial use by early next year.

This technology creates special blocks which are signed by quantum keys, rather than traditional digital signatures, explained Alex Fedorov of RQC, who has developed the quantum cryptography device.

The quantum keys are generated by a combining quantum key distribution (QKD) network, which guarantees the privacy of the key using the laws of physics.

"In a network of quantum devices - the quantum secure blockchain - eavesdropping is outlawed by the laws of quantum physics," Fedorov said.

The Quantum-secured blockchain works as a decentralised distributed database to protect against malicious modifications of things like cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. Transactions must be signed by initiators of the digital signature, while blocks are linked and secured by hash functions, he added.

The technology has already been tested by the RQC in one of Russia's largest banks - Gazprombank, by creating a three-node quantum network between the branches of the bank in the Moscow region. RQC is now working to expand the capability to other Russian and international financial services organizations.

Last month, Srei signed an MoU with Russia's Vnesheconombank to create a $200 million IT and Innovation Fund. This fund will enable Srei and Vnesheconombank to jointly explore investment opportunities in technology companies in Russia, India and other selected regions.

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