Catalonia aims to lead quantum revolution
Catalan minister Neus Munté tests video conference call protected by ground-breaking encryption system that ensures maximum security
No one was going to hack into the video conference call between presidency minister Neus Munté and department secretary Joaquim Nin on Thursday. That’s because the conversation between the two Catalan government officials -one in the Palau de la Generalitat and the other in the HQ of the telecommunications and cybersecurity department in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat- was encrypted with quantum cryptography, which guarantees the highest level of security against cyberattack. Under the supervision of some 40 technology researchers, Munté said “the best way to anticipate the future is by creating the future,” and she called on Catalonia to take a leading position in the field. It was something telecommunications and cybersecurity secretary, Jordi Puigneró, reiterated, insisting that the country had enough resources to lead the revolution in quantum technology.
Thursday’s test of a pioneering project in Europe was based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which ensure the confidentiality of information transmitted between two parties. The sharing of a randomly generated secret key along with a system of photons that detect any intrusion prevent external parties from accessing the information being transmitted. Unlike classic computation, the quantum system automatically warns of unauthorized attempts to access data. It is a system currently used by the United States and China, and Catalonia is looking into adopting the encryption technology in the near future.
“We want to show that we are capable of planting the seed for creating industry around cybersecurity"
Joaquin Nin · Department Secretary
Even though quantum cryptography is still in its infancy, the Catalan government included it in its research and innovation programme for advanced digital technology, which it approved in March with a budget of 10 million euros and with another 10 million it expects to get from the European Regional Development Fund. Telecommunications and cybersecurity secretary, Puigneró, stressed the importance of Catalonia being chosen for the first video conference made with this system: “Those states and countries that have opted to lead revolutions have reaped their benefits later,” he said, adding that quantum technology is “an opportunity that as a country we cannot waste.” For her part, minister Munté pointed out that in the next plenary session of the Catalan Parliament the Cybersecurity Law is to be passed, which aims at protecting the administration’s communications as well as individual privacy.
The video conference call between Munté and Nin took place before the start of a day-long congress on quantum technology. The presidency secretary pointed out that these systems have to be used to “safeguard Catalonia’s progress" with the aim of working in-step with Europe’s great powers. “We want to show that we are capable of planting the seed for creating industry around cybersecurity," said Nin.