Technology & Science
Online Shopping Will Be Secured by Quantum Mechanics
Nanjing University scientists developed a quantum e-commerce scheme, leveraging quantum mechanics for enhanced online transaction security, overcoming device imperfections and offering groundbreaking resistance to attacks, promising increased user confidence.

January 18, 2024

E-commerce, or online trading, has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, traditional e-commerce systems are susceptible to attacks, putting data integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation at risk. In a world heavily reliant on online transactions, ensuring the integrity and security of e-commerce has become a priority.

To address this issue, scientists have turned to quantum cryptography, a branch of quantum mechanics that offers information-theoretic security against adversaries. Chinese scientists from Nanjing University have made a significant breakthrough in this field by developing a quantum e-commerce scheme that provides unprecedented security measures. This research, published in the journal Science Advances, not only holds the potential to revolutionize online transactions but also offers a practical solution to protect sensitive information in daily life.

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is the most well-known application of quantum technology in ensuring secure communication. It provides remote users with unconditionally secure encryption keys, guaranteeing the confidentiality of messages. However, existing quantum solutions often suffer from lower performance compared to classical methods, especially when imperfect devices are involved.

The scientists from Nanjing have successfully demonstrated a quantum e-commerce scheme that enables the signing of contracts and secure payments among three parties. They have looked at a real-world situation where the merchant and client need to complete a transaction and reach an agreement. To help with this, they introduce a third party to help with the process. Unlike in the classical setup, where third parties are usually trusted by default, here the scientists don’t make any assumptions about them. They have taken the Amazon Web Services Customer Agreement, which is 428,072 bits long, to demonstrate the underlying principles of the process.

In this three-party scenario, a client is buying a product from a merchant. A third party acts as an arbiter to prevent either the merchant or the client from cheating. The merchant shares two sequences of coherent quantum states with the client and third party, respectively.

The merchant then generates the contract with all the information about the e-commerce and gets a signature through a hash function and keys distilled from his sequences. After that, the merchant sends the contract and signature to the client.

schematic of the quantum e-commerce protocol

If the client agrees with the contract, he sends the contract, signature, and keys distilled from his sequence to the third party. The third party then sends keys distilled from his own sequence back to the client.

Both the client and third party independently verify the signature using their own keys and the received keys by using hash functions. If the client verifies the signature, he pays the money to the third party. The third party then transfers the money to the merchant if he also passes the signature verification.

Overall, this innovative scheme overcomes the limitations posed by imperfect devices and showcases remarkable resistance to attacks. The research team achieved a signature rate of 0.82 times per second for an agreement size of approximately 0.428 megabits, even with a significant attenuation of up to 25 decibels among participants. By integrating quantum digital signatures (QDS), which provide information-theoretic security, the new scheme ensures the integrity, authenticity, and non-repudiation of messages in e-commerce transactions.

The significance of this breakthrough extends beyond the realm of scientific research. As online transactions continue to dominate the global market, the need for secure and reliable e-commerce platforms becomes paramount. The Chinese scientists’ quantum e-commerce scheme presents a promising solution by leveraging the power of quantum mechanics to enhance the security of online transactions.

With the implementation of this scheme, users can have increased confidence in the integrity of their transactions, knowing that their information remains secure against computational attacks. By providing information-theoretic security, the scheme offers an advanced level of protection, significantly surpassing the capabilities of traditional cryptographic algorithms.Looking ahead, the successful implementation of quantum e-commerce could revolutionize the way we conduct online transactions, providing a secure and efficient framework for businesses and consumers alike. It has the potential to create a new paradigm in secure online trading, protecting valuable data and ensuring trust among participants.


Editor-in-Chief, The China Academy
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