Thursday, February 16, 2006

On Fees and Quantum Security 

So my son yesterday made up his mind on which University offer to accept for October and like tens of thousands of other parents around the Non-Scottish parts of the UK I am today getting to grips with the hard details of actual costs to come over the next few years, including “top-up” tuition fees, and calculating the amount of debt he may be running into. Compounded in his case by taking a four-year course not a three year one. Ouch ouch and so on. This fees issue may have a bit of play in it yet, South of the Border.

He is so excited though and thrilled by the course options he can study. His new Physics Department has a scheme where selected undergraduates go on to a front-line research team right from day one and he has a good chance of working on his favourite problem, Quantum Computing. To hear his excited talk yesterday we are on the verge of serious breakthroughs on very very high speed computing; within the next ten years all current security systems, such as passwords, PINS, PGP encryption and so on will (he says) be useless. The whole basis for the technical integrity of online banking, online databases, e-mail security and these blogs will vanish into the great bitbucket in the sky. Woke this morning with the realisation that his name may go down in history as the man who destroyed the cyberworld and thought I had better post this while there is still time…

The databases behind our proposed ID cards and biometric passports would also of course be totally compromised… and as Tristram on "Liberal Alone" points out we don’t actually have to wait for my son’s epoch-making academic papers to see how creaky these safeguards are even today…

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