Quantum Key Distribution, or QKD for short, is an extremely promising area of research which has great potential for transforming the network security space.
So how does QKD work?
QKD uses physical principles to establish shared encryption keys over two remote sites. Keys are delivered using the smallest possible packets of light, and are made completely secure using quantum mechanics. This provides a further layer of security for personal and sensitive data, over and above the standard methods used by banks and credit card companies.
By transferring information in a quantum state, any attempt to intercept the key being transferred will disturb the photons sending the keys and introduce errors to their encoding. This means that organisations can identify when a key has been intercepted by a cyber-criminal and so the transaction can be terminated, with a new key being sent automatically.
This could prove to be revolutionary.
The system’s capacity for identifying unauthorised intrusion on fibre optic networks could ensure that it offers both even more security than some of today’s trusted encryption techniques and ongoing resilient protection against constantly advancing future threats.
At our recent Innovation Week, we successfully managed something nobody had ever done before. We were able to achieve the world’s first 100GE encrypted transmission, with prior key distribution using both conventional Diffie-Hellman key exchange, coupled with QKD. The encrypted link was used to demonstrate secure back-up of datacentre resources.
We’ll improve this demonstration at DSEI, showing full Software-Defined control of the secure link, giving users the facility to manage their own key resources.
Andrew Lord, Head of Optical Network R&D, BT
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