Digital eavesdroppers beware of new BGU device
Engineers have developed an encryption technique that enables stealthy transmission of any optical communications signal.
An officer speaks on the phone at the new IDF cyber-defense control center. Photo: IDF Spokesman’s Office
Eavesdropping and jamming are a growing danger to optical communications
systems, which transmit a rapidly growing amount of digital data that require a
high level of security.
Now, engineers at Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev in Beersheba and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan have developed an
encryption technique that enables stealthy transmission of any optical
communications signal by spreading it below the “noise” level (the level of
electromagnetic interference) in both time and frequency domains
As a result, a would-be eavesdropper who tries to intercept
the transmitted signal only detects noise, because the signal is hidden below
the noise level. This means that only authorized users who know the authorized
pattern can detect and decipher the signal (“spreading key”).
Sadot of BGU’s department of electrical and computer engineering, working with
Prof. Zeev Zalevsky, head of the electrooptics study program at Bar-Ilan’s
engineering faculty with doctoral student Tomer Yeminy, developed the novel
concept for stealthy fiber optical communications.
The researchers have
prepared a simulation that could be used to build a prototype, and the method is
in the midst of being patented.
“It is analogous to many soft sounds of a
lovely symphony scattered through a recording of background noise,” the
researchers said. “The authorized user who knows the ‘spreading key’ is the only
one able to detect and enjoy the symphony without the noisy background. It
should be noted that analysis shows that it will take about [10 to the 24th
power – a septillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000] years for an
eavesdropper to break the encryption key, which means that eavesdropping is very
hard. This method could also be useful in improving the immunity of the fiber
optic communications system to jamming,” say the researchers.
the above analogy, it is equivalent to talking at the same time as a person
speaking loudly. Concealment depends on how loudly the other person talks and,
moreover, the quality of both conversations will degrade,” they argue.