Chinese engineers have developed a new method of encryption: using
infrared radiation from the human body to decrypt sensitive data and create
The Chinese engineers from Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University published their findings on using body heat to gain access to, or secure, data in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 5 April 2021.
As their unique method harnesses power from the human body, the
researchers claim their revolutionised encryption technique will never become
The infrared radiation (IR) that naturally emits from the human body can serve as a multi-purpose tool to “increase controllability and flexibility” of the engineered systems, the researchers said.
Not only does the hand, for example, serve as an IR source, but multiple
IR sources exist from each fingertip – a multiplexed light source.
Encryption today employs a series of complex algorithms to scramble and unscramble data to protect information from tampering.
The intricate mathematical problems posed by these algorithms would take years for hackers to access.
However, rapidly developing quantum computers have the computing
strength necessary to overwhelm these security systems.
A more human-integrated method of encryption is the most sustainable approach to encryption-decryption systems and could set the standard on how we go about securing our most private information and data in an increasingly digitised world.
Of course, you can’t see any light radiation from your hand. Infrared radiation belongs to an area on the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye is unable to observe.
To demonstrate this the team coated a piece of aluminium with a spray of low-reflectivity polydimethylsiloxane to encrypt a “secret message” on the surface.
When the team introduced a source of IR from someone’s hand, the message
In the same way each individual’s fingerprint or eye is unique, IR has a unique signature. The IR coming from a human hand revealed increasingly more complex messages, including messages with multiple layers of encryption applied.
The study’s engineers say the realisation that their system could work
at multiple depths was significant because it means they can make essentially
unclonable encryption keys.
Although the study is in its infancy, the team is optimistic they can further nail down their new human-driven, super-secure encryption system and that their work will play an important role in the development of the intelligence of encryption systems.