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Cyber Security

Photo credit: Global Space and Technology Conference 2018 Singapore

Cyber Security in space and military operations

C By Jane Lo Singapore Correspondent

omparisons of the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) with our modern IT inevitably brings to attention the relatively primitive technology that put man on the moon. That an iPhone is millions of times faster and more powerful than the AGC adds to our appreciation the incredible engineering feat achieved with a 64kByte memory, and the relentless pace of technological development encompassed in Moore's Law. At the Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC, Sheraton Hotel Singapore 2-3rd February 2018), world’s leading companies in Space technologies, including Airbus and Thales Alenia Space presented the take-up of Artificial intelligence, BlockChain, Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics in the Space Technology sector. Not surprisingly, Cyber Security, was also an important area of focus. Dr Alexander Ling, Principal Investigator, Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore, The “Future of Unhackable Data” introduced the role of Micius satellite in shaking up the field of cryptography. But “why should we care?” he asked. Reliability of an encryption approach requires unhackable keys – a problem which Quantum technology is deemed to exacerbate on one hand, but able to solve on the other. Breaking mathematical encryption schemes is extraordinarily difficult today but with powerful computers, reverse-engineering the keys is perceived as a near-term

30 | Australian Security Magazine

reality and less of a theoretical discussion. Arguably “hackability” can be mitigated with a larger key size, provided that keys are distributed with maximum security. So, how can key negotiation protocols (short of a physical transport) be designed to ensure that only intended parties have them - that is, no eavesdropper has copied the key during its distribution? While quantum computers which are likely to break encryption and reverse-engineer keys are still at the early stages of research, there are already working prototypes of QKD, or Quantum Key Distribution. This technology exploits properties of photons to transmit data for secure sharing of a key between a sender and a receiver. To steal the key would require knowing the photon properties – which due to quantum physics law, is impossible without changing the properties’ behavior and alerting the sender and receiver to the attempted hack. The best optical fibers carry these photons to 200 kilometers before light absorption distort the process. Entanglement, where two particles behave like one regardless of distance apart, enables QKD over long distances. The Micius satellite demonstrates this over 7,600 km by distributing the key from orbit. When the satellite is over the Chinese ground station (at Xinglong, Hebei province), it sends the one-time pad to the ground, encoded in single photons. As the Earth rotates beneath the satellite and as the ground station at Graz in Austria comes into view, Micius sends the same one-time pad to

Profile for Asia Pacific Security Magazine

Australian Security Magazine, April/May 2018