[cryptography] Well, that's depressing. Now what?

Jon Callas jon at callas.org
Fri Jan 27 23:51:23 EST 2012

On Jan 27, 2012, at 5:22 PM, Noon Silk wrote:

> So why didn't one of these "real world" people point this out, to
> researchers? It's a bit too easy to claim something as obvious when
> someone just told you.

There are any number of us who have been quantum skeptics for years, and the responses that have come back to us have been essentially that the fact that we were skeptical showed ipso facto that we didn't know what we were talking about. The quantum folks have just insisted that doubting quantum cryptography was like doubting evolution or gravity.

Nonetheless, as prettily fragrant as the schadenfreude is this evening, I'm not sure I buy this paper, either. I'm immediately reminded of Clarke's First Law. (Not the technology and magic one, but one about elderly and distinguished scientists making predictions.)

The quantum crypto people have earned contempt from us math people by high-handedly dismissing any operational concerns, by fake competition -- insisting on the false dilemma that quantum and mathematical techniques are product and technological competitors, and even in the very *word* "cryptography." Quantum cryptography is not cryptography. It is an amazing bit of physics. In the last few years, they've backed off to "quantum key distribution" but "quantum *secrecy*" is not only more accurate, less snake oil, and far cooler than either of the terms.

Heck, just this week, an article "Quantum mechanics enables perfectly secure cloud computing" showed up on physorg.com at <http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-01-quantum-mechanics-enables-perfectly-cloud.html>. It manages to put the same snake oil into the very headline by using the word "perfect." It's been a relatively few days since I read something else where they were claiming that devices to do quantum crypto to mobile devices are around the corner, unironically including the trusted third party in the middle that acts as a key router. That one's perfect, too.

I can hardly wait to see the rebuttals to this paper.


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