Breakthrough promises secure quantum computing at home.

Millions of individuals and companies could soon harness the full power of next-generation quantum computing, thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Oxford University Physics guaranteeing security and privacy. This advance promises to unlock the transformative potential of cloud-based quantum computing and is detailed in a new study published in the influential U.S. scientific journal Physical Review Letters.


Quantum computing is developing rapidly, paving the way for new applications that could transform services in many areas, like healthcare and financial services. It works fundamentally differently from conventional computing and is potentially far more powerful. However, controlled conditions are currently required to remain stable, and there are concerns about data authenticity and the effectiveness of current security and encryption systems.

Several leading providers of cloud-based services, like Google, Amazon, and IBM, already separately offer some elements of quantum computing. Safeguarding the privacy and security of customer data is a vital precursor to scaling up and expanding its use and for the development of new applications as technology advances. The latest study by researchers at Oxford University Physics addresses these challenges.

“We have shown for the first time that quantum computing in the cloud can be accessed in a scalable, practical way, which will also give people complete security and privacy of data, plus the ability to verify its authenticity,” said Professor David Lucas, who co-heads the Oxford University Physics research team and is lead scientist at the U.K. Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub, led from Oxford University Physics.

In the new study, the researchers use an approach dubbed “blind quantum computing,” which connects two separate quantum computing entities – potentially an individual at home or in an office accessing a cloud server – in a completely secure way. Importantly, their new methods could be scaled up to large quantum computations.

“Using blind quantum computing, clients can access remote quantum computers to process confidential data with secret algorithms and verify the results are correct without revealing useful information. Realizing this concept is a big step forward in quantum computing and keeping our information safe online” said study lead Dr. Peter Drmota of Oxford University Physics.

The researchers created a system comprising a fiber network link between a quantum computing server and a simple device detecting photons, or particles of light, at an independent computer remotely accessing its cloud services. This allows so-called blind quantum computing over a network. Every computation incurs a correction that must be applied to all that follow and needs real-time information to comply with the algorithm. The researchers used a unique combination of quantum memory and photons to achieve this.

“Never in history have the issues surrounding privacy of data and code been more urgently debated than in the present era of cloud computing and artificial intelligence,” said Professor David Lucas. “As quantum computers become more capable, people will seek to use them with complete security and privacy over networks, and our new results mark a step change in capability in this respect.”

The results could lead to the commercial development of devices that plug into laptops and safeguard data when people use quantum cloud computing services.

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