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New quantum key distribution network resistant to quantum attacks

News Analysis
Feb 17, 20223 mins
EncryptionNetwork SecurityQuantum Computing

A claimed first-of-a-kind quantum key distribution network offers 800 Gbps encryption under real-world environmental conditions and has been demonstrated to detect and defend against quantum threats.

Quantum computing  >  A quantum processor radiates power.
Credit: Sakkmesterke / Getty Images

New research has revealed the full viability of a novel quantum key distribution (QKD) network for metropolitan areas that is resistant to quantum computing attacks. According to JPMorgan Chase, Toshiba and Ciena, the newly developed QKD network supports 800 Gbps encryption under real-world environmental conditions and can instantly detect and defend against quantum-enabled threats. In a claimed industry first, the network has also been demonstrated to secure a mission critical blockchain application, the firms stated.

Quantum key distribution network “first of its kind”

Under the leadership of JPMorgan Chase’s Future Lab for Applied Research and Engineering (FLARE) and global network infrastructure teams, researchers from all three organizations collaborated to achieve the following results:

  • A QKD channel was multiplexed on the same fiber as ultra-high bandwidth 800 Gbps optical channels for the first time and used to provide keys for encryption of the data stream.
  • Co-existence of the quantum channel with two 800 Gbps and eight 100 Gbps channels was demonstrated for a 70km fiber, with a key rate sufficient to support up to 258 AES-256 encrypted channels at a key refresh rate of 1 key/sec.
  • Operation of QKD and the ten high-bandwidth channels was demonstrated for distances up to 100km.
  • The proof-of-concept network infrastructure relied on Toshiba’s Multiplexed QKD System, manufactured by Toshiba Europe at their Cambridge UK base, and Ciena’s Waveserver 5 platform, equipped with 800 Gbps optical-layer encryption and open APIs running over Ciena’s 6500 photonic solution.

QKD technology, robust encryption key to securing quantum computing future

As the era of quantum computing beckons, QKD is the only solution that has been mathematically proven to defend against a potential quantum computing-based attack with security guarantees based on the laws of quantum physics, said JPMorgan Chase, Toshiba, and Ciena.

“This work comes at an important time as we continue to prepare for the introduction of production-quality quantum computers, which will change the security landscape of technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency in the foreseeable future,” commented Marco Pistoia, distinguished engineer and head of the FLARE research group.

Speaking to CSO, Pistoia adds: “The success of this prototype shows that we now have a proven and tested method for defending the confidentiality of applications such as blockchain against future quantum-equipped eavesdroppers.” With QKD technology, organizations can ready themselves for the security needs of the future and will be better prepared to secure their applications against risks that may arise when quantum supremacy is reached, he says.

With more sensitive information being distributed across fiber-optic networks every day, robust encryption is of vital importance, said Ciena CTO Steve Alexander. “As the quantum computing era approaches, research and development advances will continue to ensure the confidentiality of critical data as it travels over the network.”

UK Editor

Michael Hill is the UK editor of CSO Online. He has spent the past 8 years covering various aspects of the cybersecurity industry, with particular interest in the ever-evolving role of the human-related elements of information security. A keen storyteller with a passion for the publishing process, he enjoys working creatively to produce media that has the biggest possible impact on the audience.

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