Secure communications are vital for defence and strategic agencies world over and distribution of encryption keys from time to time is an important requirement in this context. 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. Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) undertook the project for the development of this technology.
A milestone of this project was achieved today when DRDO developed Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology underwent trials in Hyderabad between two DRDO labs, DRDL and RCI, to show secure communication. Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh congratulated the DRDO team for successful demonstration of QKD communication.
The technology is developed by CAIR, Bengaluru and DYSL-QT, 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.