• Recently, a joint team of scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, for the first time in the country successfully demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution link between Prayagraj and Vindhyachal in Uttar Pradesh, a distance of more than 100 kilometres.
  • With this success, the country has demonstrated indigenous technology of secure key transfer for bootstrapping military grade communication security key hierarchy.
  • Earlie, China’s satellite Micius had sent light particles to Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link.
  • 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.

Two Main Categories of QKD

Prepare-and-Measure Protocols:

It focuses on measuring unknown quantum states. This type of protocol can be used to detect eavesdropping (spying), as well as how much data was potentially intercepted.

Entanglement-based Protocols:

  • It focuses on quantum states in which two objects are linked together, forming a combined quantum state.
  • The concept of entanglement means that measurement of one object thereby affects the other. In this method, if an eavesdropper accesses a previously trusted node and changes something, the other involved parties will know.

QKD Need:

  • QKD is essential to address the threat that rapid advancement in Quantum Computing poses to the security of the data being transported by various critical sectors through the current communication networks.
  • Quantum Technologies can broadly be divided into four verticals viz. Quantum Computing, Quantum Communications, Quantum Sensors and Quantum Materials.
  • The technology would be useful in enabling various start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the domain of quantum information.
  • It will enable security agencies to plan a suitable quantum communication network with indigenous technology backbone.
  • 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.

Use of QKD:

  • QKD relies on already having a classically authenticated channel of communications established.
  • This means that one of the participating users has probably already exchanged a symmetric key in the first place, creating a sufficient level of security.
  • A system can already be made sufficiently secure without QKD through using another advanced encryption standard.
  • However, as the use of quantum computers becomes more frequent, the possibility that an attacker could utilize quantum computing’s ability to crack into current encryption methods rises — making QKD more relevant.

Way Forward

The power of startups and Big Tech corporations involved in developing quantum technology and applications must be harnessed.


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