Quantum crypto, standard private key blended for first time

ID Quantique has found a way to blend quantum-key cryptography with more traditional crypto, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The effect is to gain certain advantages offered by both for private-key-based encryption.

"We've implemented the quantum random-number generator with a conventional encryptor using AES,"  says Gregoire Ribordy, CEO of the Swiss-based company, adding he believes this is the first time this has been done in such a manner.

ID Quantique's newly-released Centauris CN8000 encryptor uses technology based on photon reflection as a timing source that can generate a string of zeros and ones so that "the chances of having a unique number is virtually assured." This is essential to generate unbreakable private keys, he says.

+ Also on NetworkWorld: Battelle deploys quantum-key protected network in full production +

ID Quantique offers other products that are wholly based on quantum-key distribution techniques but these face physical distance limitations in their use due to the nature of photon-based crypto. But with the CN8000, ID Quantique makes use of the 256-bit AES algorithm to overcome that, so "there is no distance limitation," says Ribordy.

The CN8000 is said to achieve 100Gbps, and is intended for secure communication of encrypted traffic between two data centers. CN8000 can also be adapted to use ID Quantique's quantum-key in full without use of AES.

Pricing for the CN8000 begins at $25,000.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.