India’s Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology at trials in Hyderabad city between two DRDO labs to show secure communication.
Distribution of encryption keys from time to time is an important requirement in this context of secure communication. Sharing of keys over the air or wired links requires encryption, which in turn requires encryption keys to be pre-shared. Quantum based communication offers a robust solution to sharing the keys securely.
The technology is developed by DRDO laboratories in Bengaluru and Mumbai. Quantum Communication using time-bin Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) scheme was performed under realistic conditions.
The setup also demonstrated the validation of detection of a third party trying to gain knowledge of the communication. Quantum based security against eavesdropping was validated for the deployed system at over 12kms range and 10dB attenuation over fibre optic channel.
Continuous-wave laser source was used to generate photons without depolarization effect. The timing accuracy employed in the setup was of the order of picoseconds. The Single-photon avalanche detector (SPAD) recorded the arrival of photons and the key rate was achieved in the range of kbps with low Quantum bit error rate.
The software was developed for data acquisition, time synchronization, post-processing, determining Quantum bit error rate and extracting other important parameters.
The work being done at DRDO will be used to enable start-ups and SMEs in the domain of quantum information technologies. It will also serve to define standards and crypto policies that can leverage QKD system in a unified Cipher Policy Committee (CPC) framework for more secure and pragmatic key management for current and future military cryptographic systems.