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Warning: This Algorithm Will Self-Destruct After It's ­sed

How it works.

Marie-Christine Roehsner at the University of Vienna and Joshua Kettlewell at the National University of Singapore, along with a number of colleagues, say they have found a way to build a one-time program, and have built and demonstrated a proof-of-princi

Credit: Marie-Christine Roehsner et al.

Marie-Christine Roehsner at the University of Vienna in Austria and Joshua Kettlewell at the National University of Singapore say they have built a proof-of-principle algorithm that destroys itself after use.

"We...allow some probability of error in the output and show that quantum mechanics offers security advantages over purely classical resources," the researchers note.

In this setup, one party encodes sensitive information in the states of a set of quantum bits on a quantum computer programmed to compare this data with information entered by another party in order to perform a calculation.

The researchers say reverse engineering via determination of the logic gates' wiring is prevented "because our approach is to encode the truth table for individual gates as a one-time program in its own right."

They note the prototype shows "that quantum physics allows for better security trade-offs for certain secure computing tasks than are possible in the classical world, even when perfect security cannot be achieved."

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