- Recently, the government has inaugurated C-DOT’s (Centre for Development of Telematics) Quantum Communication Lab and unveiled the indigenously developed Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) solution.
- The government has also allocated USD 1 billion for the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications spanning over a period of 8 years.
- QKD, also called Quantum Cryptography, is a mechanism to develop secure communication.
- It provides a way of distributing and sharing secret keys that are necessary for cryptographic protocols.
- Cryptography is the study of secure communications techniques that allow only the sender and intended recipient of a message to view its contents.
- Cryptographic algorithms and protocols are necessary to keep a system secure, particularly when communicating through an untrusted network such as the Internet.
- The conventional cryptosystems used for data-encryption rely on the complexity of mathematical algorithms, whereas the security offered by quantum communication is based on the laws of Physics.
- In the QKD, encryption keys are sent as ‘qubits’ (or quantum bits) in an optical fibre.
- Optical fibers are capable of transmitting more data over longer distances and faster than other mediums. It works on the principle of total internal Reflections.
- QKD implementation requires interactions between the legitimate users. These interactions need to be authenticated. This can be achieved through various cryptographic means.
- QKD allows two distant users, who do not share a long secret key initially, to produce a common, random string of secret bits, called a secret key.
- The end-result is that QKD can utilize an authenticated communication channel and transform it into a secure communication channel.
- It is designed in a way that if an illegitimate entity tries to read the transmission, it will disturb the qubits – which are encoded on photons.
- This will generate transmission errors, leading to legitimate end-users being immediately informed.
- It allows the detection of data leak or hacking because it can detect any such attempt.
- It also allows the process of setting the error level between the intercepted data.
- The encryption is unbreakable and that’s mainly because of the way data is carried via the photon.
- A photon cannot be perfectly copied and any attempt to measure it will disturb it. This means that a person trying to intercept the data will leave a trace.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT