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China launches quantum-secured, 'unhackable' smartphone

Updated: 2022-05-24

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(Xinhua)

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A Chinese telecom service provider rolled off a smartphone using quantum tech that can ensure the user chat on the device is almost "unhackable."

Launched by China Telecom, Tianyi No 1 2022 is a smartphone mounted with a quantum-secured encryption module and purpose-built SIM card that can encrypt and decipher voice calls on the phone using the quantum key distribution, Science Daily reported Tuesday.

The telecom giant and the startup QuantumCTeck set up a joint venture in 2021 to develop quantum-based communication and bring the ingenious know-how to market.

Chinese scientists, some of whom were part of the founding team of QuantumCTeck, tested the quantum key distribution with the world's first quantum satellite Micius launched in August 2016.

Unlike traditional cryptography, the technology uses single photons in quantum superposition states by which the key is embedded to guarantee unconditional security between distant parties.

Quantum superposition is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics, stating that, much like waves in classical physics, any two or more quantum states can be added together.

The communication is, therefore, "unhackable" as any attempt to intercept the key would be known immediately both to the sender and the intended recipient.

"When a user initiates a quantum-secured chat, a secret key will be generated at random to verify his or her identity," said Zhang Rutong, an engineer with QuantumCTeck. "After verification, the quantum network will generate a new real-time key to encrypt voice data."

"The key is randomly generated, hard to crack and discarded immediately after calling," Zhang added.

The service is available when both senders and recipients use the quantum-based phone.

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