Toshiba Corp. and Tohoku University announced on Jan. 14 that they had achieved a world first in the use of quantum cryptography on such a large scale with transmitting encrypted data.

As a result of the experiment, quantum cryptography, called the “ultimate code” as it is theoretically impossible to hack, “has improved to the application level,” a Toshiba representative said.

Toshiba transmitted a few hundred gigabytes of data on human genomes for 24 people, an amount equal to sending 10 feature films. 

Many countries have been rushing to put quantum cryptography into practical use as, if a quantum computer is completed, it could break the current code used by slower systems in internet security and produce new unbreakable code.

Quantum cryptography can also detect all illegal interception of data and remake encryption keys to decipher the code to avoid being viewed by third parties.

Beijing has been aggressively pursing the use of the technology and succeeded in long-distance data transmission via satellites in 2017. In 2018, China built the world’s largest quantum cryptography network, connecting the 2,000-kilometer distance between Beijing and Shanghai.

China's Xinhua News Agency, banks and electric power companies are said to have already started using networks that utilize quantum cryptography.

The technology is seen as becoming indispensable to more securely transfer sensitive data related to national security, medical care and finance.

Japan lags China in application, but its systems' high-communication speed enables it to send large quantities of data faster.

The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Toshiba, NEC Corp. and other companies have been developing the world’s fastest transmitter-receivers and leading the discussion for international standardization.

After analyzing the genomes in a facility in Sendai, Toshiba transmitted the data to Tohoku University, about 7 km away, in real time.

Though the data took up a few hundred gigabytes, sending it using quantum cryptography allowed the university to view it just 2 minutes after Toshiba had finished analyzing it.