Researchers have discovered clues to help network administrators protect quantum computing networks from being hacked.

A team of researchers at the University of Ottawa said it has built what is termed as the first high-dimensional quantum cloning machine that is capable of performing quantum hacking to intercept a secure quantum message.

"Once we were able to analyze the results, we discovered some very important clues to help protect quantum computing networks against potential hacking threats," said Ebrahim Karimi, University of Ottawa Department of Physics professor.

It is believed that quantum systems provide the most secure data transmission. Until date, attempts made to copy data from quantum computers resulted in either altered or completely deteriorated versions of the original data that was transmitted.

The scene is different with traditional computers, where an attacker can simply copy information and replicate it.

Karimi's team was able to clone the photons that transmit information called qubits, meaning the clones were the exact replicas of the original information. Their research has revealed clues into how to protect against hacking.

"What we found was that when larger amounts of quantum information are encoded on a single photon, the copies will get worse and hacking even simpler to detect," explained Frédéric Bouchard, a doctoral student at the University of Ottawa.

"We were also able to show that cloning attacks introduce specific, observable noises in a secure quantum communication channel. Ensuring photons contain the largest amount of information possible and monitoring these noises in a secure channel should help strengthen quantum computing networks against potential hacking threats," added Bouchard.