Winter 2018 Optical Connections Magazine


Perhaps one of the most important breakthroughs of 2018 was in the area of optical network security. With major data hacks taking place on a seemingly regular basis and the exponential increase in data volumes expected over the coming months and years, security is an issue of great concern to network operators and content providers. Peter Dykes looks at the latest developments. QUANTUM IS THE KEY TO OPTICAL SECURITY

E arlier this year, Spanish researchers developed a quantum cryptography network integrated into a commercial optical network using technologies based on software defined networking (SDN). The design allows for the implementation of quantum and classical network services in what the developers call “a flexible, dynamic and scalable manner”. The network uses an infrastructure of fibre from Telefonica Spain that connects three facilities located in the metropolitan area of Madrid. The trial has been ongoing since May 2018, and a preliminary report was recently presented at QCRYPT 2018, the largest conference in this field. The network integrates quantum key distribution (QKD) devices developed by Huawei’s Research Lab in Munich, Germany. The team adds that integrating demonstrate that QKD techniques can be applied in a real production environment, combining the transmission of data and quantum keys over the same fibre. The management of the quantum and classical channels is performed in an integrated way through SDN techniques, sharing the optical network in an optimal way. Telefonica stated, “the fact that this has been developed on an existing infrastructure using standard communications systems highlights the maturity of this technology, which allows switching between links connecting points that may be up to 60 km apart.” Twenty channels can share the same fibre in the same optical band that uses the quantum channel, allowing the simultaneous transmission of quantum signals with more than two terabytes per second of data in metropolitan area networks when using standard 100 gigabytes per second modules. all of the necessary technological elements has made it possible to

ADVANCED SECURITY In this arrangement, secure communications are based on

use, it can also provide a much higher level of security. QKD requires a physical infrastructure of optical fibres, such as that provided by Telefónica Spain used to connect the communication centres in the pilot program. Until now, the viability of QKD has been demonstrated in laboratories and in controlled field trials, but there have always been problems with the ability to deploy it on a commercial infrastructure and to integrate it with the operating mechanisms of such a infrastructure. This experience demonstrates that it is possible to overcome those obstacles. In the network, a new quantum technology has also been used for the distribution of quantum keys based on “continuous variables” QKD (CV-QKD) that is more compatible with classical technologies than existing ones. The combination of these technologies has enabled a complete integrated network of classical communications’ infrastructure and the use of standard telecommunications systems that has been achieved in this trial is the first of its kind, demonstrating this technology’s capacity for real-world use. and quantum communications. The deployment over an existing CiViQ (Continuous Variable Quantum Communications), which is part of the latest European Quantum Flagship initiative. he new European project CiViQ (Continuous Variable Quantum Communications) will focus on solving these challenges. Selected as one of the 20 projects to start the Quantum Flagship, an ambitious €1 billion initiative supported by the European Commission over the next 10 years, CiViQ aims at developing flexible and low-cost QKD systems that can be integrated easily into emerging telecommunication infrastructures. The work has now been taken forward by the research project

cryptography, in which information is encrypted using a secret key. Only the users in possession of the decryption key can access the secure messages. The cryptographic techniques currently in use to exchange keys or electronically sign documents are based on mathematical algorithms requiring excessive time to solve, preventing intrusion. However, the industry acknowledges that as computing capacity increases, the time to find a solution to “crack the code” will be reduced – along with the security of these methods. To avoid this problem, the size of the encryption keys must be increased as computing capacity has grown. These techniques are likely to be rendered completely obsolete with the emergence of quantum computers that can solve currently intractable problems using the principles of quantum mechanics. These include breaking the keys generated by the most used cryptographic methods, making the majority of the communications security infrastructure useless, say the Telefonica team. Nevertheless, quantum technologies offer a solution to the vulnerability of current methods. With these technologies, it is possible to apply quantum principles to generate a secret key through a public communications channel, so that the key is secure against any attack, including one from a quantum computer. Quantum technology even make it possible to detect any attack attempt immediately. QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES Quantum key distribution is one of these technologies. Not only does it solve the problem of the threat posed by quantum computation to cryptographic key generation algorithms already in


ISSUE 15 | Q4 2018

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs