Cloaking Provides Optical Security

As the Edward Snowden leak swept news outlets, the world discovered that the British spy agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), was tapping fiber optic cables that carry international phone and Internet traffic and then sharing that information with the U.S. National Security Agency.

The international wiretapping program, called “Tempora,” had been running for approximately 18 months and allows GCHQ to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fiber optic cables for up to 30 days, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Since the NSA and GCHQ eavesdropping program came to light, people have grown more concerned about their personal privacy. Now researchers at Purdue University have discovered a way to potentially thwart would-be eavesdroppers and improve security for telecommunications.

The method — recently published in Nature — uses lasers to cloak data streams, so the information is hidden and never appears to have been sent. Previous cloaking methods blocked only about a 10,000th of a percent of optical communications. Purdue’s research was able to increase blocking to 46 percent, proving that ultra-secure transmissions are possible.

The cloaking method takes light waves and splits them apart before compressing them back together, which creates ‘time pockets’ that cloak data transmissions. By manipulating light over time, the researchers were able to generate regular periods with zero light intensity, which allows data to be hidden, explained Joseph Lukens, the study’s lead author and electrical engineer at Purdue University. This method takes fiber optic data transmission and applies a whole new level of security.

“It doesn’t just prevent eavesdroppers from reading your data — they wouldn’t even know there was any data there to hack,” Lukens said.

Fiber connectivity allows businesses to operate more efficiently thanks to the higher speeds and larger bandwidth, but for many businesses, security is also a top priority. Purdue’s new technology may help increase fiber optic data security. If your business is interested in locating a fiber lit building or metro fiber, or learning more about local telecommunications infrastructure, GeoTel Communications offers GIS telecom fiber maps for clients, as well as a variety of other telecom data products. Give us a call at (800) 277-2172 to learn more!