A new technology announced Thursday morning by ID Quantique encrypts data traveling between data centers. One target market is large banks, such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citi, that run multiple data centers in the U.S.
The Geneva, Switzerland company has been providing network encryption for about ten years. "When we started, there was new technology coming on the market for data communications called optical fiber," says CEO Gregoire Ribordy. "At the time, people thought optical fiber provided security."
The company demonstrated that it could tap fiber optic networks by bending the fiber and collecting data from it. "What's coming out now in the news is optical communications is not secure," Ribordy says. "It's a wake-up call for a lot of people."
While the NSA's ability to tap into the fiber optic networks run by telecom giants has made headlines, the banking industry has more to worry about in the categories of hackers and cyberthieves. "A lot of these techniques are easy to use and could be used by criminals," Ribordy says.
The ID Quantique system encrypts data passing from one location (such as a data center) to another.
"You would install this as the last piece of equipment on the way out of the data center, and then the traffic would be secure until it gets to the other data center where it's decrypted ours would be the first equipment on the other side," Ribordy says.
The solution being launched today is a rack that can be used to encrypt up to ten links between two data centers.
"Sending data that's not encrypted is like sending a postcard instead of a letter," Ribordy says. "You need to protect information when its sent between data centers."
Conventional public-key cryptography is based on mathematical algorithms; the longer the key, the more secure the encryption.
ID Quantique's approach to encryption is based on a quantum random number generator backed up by quantum physics. The technology can encrypt up to 100 gigabytes per second of data, using longer keys than are typical. The quantum physics components of it can determine if a piece of data has been intercepted or viewed because the light particles in which the data is encoded will change.
The company recently announced its first U.S. customer: Battelle, a research and development company based in Columbus, Ohio, will use the technology to transmit data between Ohio offices. Some Swiss banks already use it.