Friday, June 7, 2013

Securing Your Data; Securing Your Personal Freedoms

Security Measures

An article  by Zeeya Morali, in Nature says that scientists have found a way to cloak data, thus preventing it from being seen by hackers or other without legal and ethical or moral reasons

Morali writes:
If you’ve ever wanted to edit an event from your history, then help may soon be at hand. Electrical engineers have used lasers to create a cloak that can hide communications in a 'time hole', so that it seems as if they were never sent. The method, published today in Nature 1, is the first that can cloak data streams sent at the rapid rates typically seen in telecommunications systems. It opens the door to ultra-secure transmission schemes, and may also provide a way to better shield information from noise corruption.

In 2010, Martin McCall, an optical physicist at Imperial College London, and his colleagues proposed2 that it may be possible to create temporal cloaks that carve out short windows in time during which operations can be carried out unnoticed. Their work built on the principles behind invisibility cloaks, which hide objects in space by channelling light rays around them. When viewed from a distance, the light appears to have travelled along a straight line, without having hit any intervening object.
Similarly, McCall and colleagues suggested that by pulling light waves apart in time, and then compressing them back together, it should be possible to create 'time pockets' in which to cloak events. In theory, this could enable “a whole new level of security” for data transmission along optical fibres, says Joseph Lukens, an electrical engineer at Purdue University in Indiana, and lead author of the latest study. “It doesn't just prevent eavesdroppers from reading your data — they wouldn’t even know there was any data there to hack.”
Last year, a team led by Alexander Gaeta, an optical physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, built the first working temporal cloak by manipulating laser pulses 3. But the time windows opened up too rarely to be able to hide data coming in at telecommunication rates.
This sounds something out of science fiction, but it’s not. It’a a method, albeit in its infancy, of using the laws of physics and nature to make information in the form of pockets of data appear and disappear, at will, by splitting light using a method called Talbot carpet. This phenomena was first discovered by British inventor Henry Fox Talbot in 1836.

Of course, bring up the word “cloak” and all kinds of nefarious purposes come to mind. The article says that this is not the case with this current technology.
Gaeta agrees that the primary use for cloaking will probably be for innocent, mundane purposes. “People always imagine doing something illicit when they hear ’cloaking,’ ” he says. “But these ways for manipulating light will probably be used to make current non-secret communication techniques more sophisticated.” 
Yes, at least for now; and perhaps there is good news in this particular scientific advancement; a cloaking device can effectively be used to secure personal data from the illegal and unethical snooping practices of the American and other governments.That would not only protect personal information but, more important, personal freedoms.

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You can read the rest of the article at [Nature]