ACHIEVING an important milestone, the Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has undergone trials between two laboratories in Hyderabad where the quantum technology- based security was validated for a range of 12 km over a fibre optic channel.
QKD is primarily a mechanism to undertake secure communication which utilises a cryptographic protocol involving various components of quantum mechanics. The technology enables two communicating sides to come up with random secret keys shared by both of them and known exclusively to them, so only they can use it to encrypt and decrypt messages, thus achieving highly-secure communication.
The technology has been developed by two DRDO facilities, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru, and DRDO Young Scientists’ Laboratory – Quantum Technology (DYSL-QT), Mumbai.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the DRDO team for successful demonstration of QKD communication. As part of a successful trial, the technology was tested in real life conditions and performed well on all parameters. As part of the test simulation, an entity trying to gain access to communication was also detected by the system.
DRDO scientists said that the work being done on QKD technology at DRDO will be used to enable start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the domain of quantum information technologies. The technology is expected to help define standards and formulate crypto technology related policies that can use the QKD system in a unified Cipher Policy Committee (CPC) framework in the country for more secure ‘key management’ for current and future military cryptographic systems, said senior officials.
“Secure communications are vital for defence and strategic agencies world over and distribution of encryption keys from time to time is an important requirement in this context. Sharing of keys over the air or wired links requires encryption, which in turn requires encryption keys to be pre-shared. Quantum-based communication offers a robust solution to sharing the keys securely. DRDO has undertaken the project for development of this technology. A milestone of this project was achieved today when DRDO-developed Quantum Key Distribution technology underwent trials in Hyderabad between two DRDO labs, Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI) to show secure communication,” read a press statement from the Ministry of Defence.
“…Quantum Communication using the time-bin Quantum Key Distribution scheme was performed under realistic conditions. The set-up also demonstrated the validation of detection of a third party trying to gain knowledge of the communication. Quantum-based security against eavesdropping was validated for the deployed system at over 12 km range and 10 decibel attenuation over fibre optic channel,” added the statement.
Giving further technical details of the process, DRDO said, “A continuous wave laser source was used to generate photons without depolarization effect. The timing accuracy employed in the set-up was of the order of picoseconds. The single photon avalanche detector (SPAD) recorded arrival of photons and key rate was achieved in the range of kbps with low Quantum bit error rate. Software was developed for data acquisition, time synchronization, post-processing, determining quantum bit error rate and extracting other important parameters. “
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