Quantum mechanics has recently been discussed as a possible answer to our commercial business problems when it comes to securing our business communications.
In the case of the electric grid it is currently being implemented as a way to impede Chinese hackers from taking down our electric infrastructure in one efficient lethal blow.
We often talk about this science as what will be the answer to our ever increasing computing power needs but this science could be used even sooner for such things as commercial communications.
Quantum mechanics provides a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter.
A company called GridCom Technologies is working to make essential electric grid infrastructure secure by encrypting that data sent over grid control systems.
What would normally be encrypted using mathematical algorithms now uses quantum physics.
At such low latency speeds that you have with electric grid technology it doesn’t allow for traditional methods of encryption to work. Because of the problem hurdle of low latency it renders electric grid controls vulnerable to hacker attacks.
By using optical technology GridCom can generate two photons that is done through a laser and moves through optical fiber cables. Within these photons there are opposite polarization’s which allow for waves oscillating up and down as well as left and right.
If a hacker, for instance, tried to measure one of these photons it would change the state of the other photon which would show the security system that the photons are no longer entangled and would immediately alert the administrator that a message has been intercepted.
The phenomenal difference between this encryption system and modern day versions is that instead of using mathematics to encrypt this is done purely with physics.
Electric grid operators will be able to use this technology to encrypt data as well as verify if a message has been captured or tampered with. This new form of encryption has the advantage of being light years ahead of mathematical encryption which can be hacked and is simply not future proof.
The key for this encryption system working on electric grids is its ability to work quickly which is critical for SCADA systems (industrial control systems such as an electric grid operator).
By leveraging a random bit stream with no data latency you allow the electric grid to have a hack proof data communications system which is ultimately all the grid needs.
In summary this would be implemented within 16 mile distances from each hardware receiver connected by physical fiber cable and would address some main security deficiencies of the electric grid but certainly not all of them. You can find examples of this encryption technique used within certain government agencies that communicate in a closed internet network but possibly one day this could be what the modern day internet user uses to communicate with other users.