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Making Quantum Cryptography Truly Secure

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An overlooked loophole in quantum key distribution (QKD) technology was demonstrated by an eavesdropping method created and operated by researchers at the National University of Singapore's Center for Quantum Technologies (CQT) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and University Graduate Center (UNIK).

With the eavesdropper, researchers were able to capture an entire shared secret key without alerting either of the legitimate parties that there had been a security intrusion. The eavesdropping breach was conducted over a 290-meter fiber link between a transmitter that sends light to a receiver one photon at a time, and the secret key is constructed through measurement of the photonic properties. By making the receiver's detectors behave in a classical way, the researchers were able to blind the detectors.

"This confirms that non-idealities in the physical implementations of QKD can be fully and practically exploitable, and must be given increased scrutiny if quantum cryptography is to become highly secure," says UNIK researcher Vadim Makarov. CQT professor Christian Kurtsiefer notes that "we cannot simply delegate the burden of keeping a secret to the laws of quantum physics; we need to carefully investigate the specific devices involved."

From Centre for Quantum Technologies
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