NATIONAL MISSION ON QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES AND APPLICATIONS

  • 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.

Important points:

  • 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.

Mechanism:

  • 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.

Significance:

  • 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

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