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DRDO achieves milestone in key quantum technology

Context

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved a milestone in Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology that underwent maiden trials at two of its laboratories establishing highly secure communication.

About

What is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)?

  • QKD is a secure communication method that uses cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics.

  • It is developed by Bengaluru-based Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) and Defence Young Scientists' Laboratory - Quantum Technology (DYSL-QT), Mumbai.

  • The technology enables two communicators to produce a random secret key known only to them and later it can be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.

The successful trial

  • The quantum communication using time-bin QKD technology was performed during the trials and the setup demonstrated validation of detection of a third party trying to gain knowledge of the communication.

  • As part of a successful trial, the technology was tested in real life conditions and performed well on all parameters.

  • As part of the test simulation, an entity trying to gain access to communication was also detected by the system.

What makes QKD unbreakable?

  • The security of QKD stems from the ability to detect any intrusion on the QKD transmission. Because of the unique and fragile properties of photons, any third party who tries to read or copy the photons in any way will change the photons’ state.

  • The change will be detected by the endpoints, alerting them that the key has been tampered with and must be discarded. A new key is then transmitted. Moreover, since the keys generated are truly random, they are protected from future hacking attempts.

Significance

  • The work being done on QKD technology at DRDO will be used to enable start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the domain of quantum information technologies.

  • The technology is expected to help define standards and formulate crypto technology related policies that can use the QKD system in a unified Cipher Policy Committee (CPC) framework in the country for more secure ‘key management’ for current and future military cryptographic systems.


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Bhubaneswar, Odisha

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