Qubitekk developed quantum cryptography solutions for the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications market. As hackers become more sophisticated and computational power increases, the cryptography protecting critical infrastructure communications (i.e. the electrical grid, oil and gas pipeline, etc.) must be updated. In 2015, the U.S. National Security Agency advised against upgrading to cryptographic solutions that were not verified to be “quantum-safe” (e.g., would be vulnerable to a cyber attack from a quantum computer). Unfortunately, for many M2M applications, no commercial, quantum-safe alternative currently exists.
Working closely with two of the four major utilities in California, Qubitekk is developing and trial testing a quantum cryptography solution that will provide quantum-safe authentication and encryption to automation devices in the field. Qubitekk’s solutions utilize entangled photons which are protected by the laws of quantum physics against undetected tampering. By leveraging these “tamper-indicating” photons, encryption keys and authentication codes can be generated and distributed securely over unprotected channels. Because these solutions achieve security through physical processes, they are not made vulnerable by advances in computational power and, hence, are quantum-safe.
QKD for Industrial Control Systems (ICS)
Qubitekk’s Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system provides cutting-edge channel security while greatly simplifying the generation, maintenance, and distribution of encryption keys used on an ICS network. A set-and-forget hardware solution, QKD can be used in tandem – or as an alternative to – traditional public key infrastructure (PKI) and Certificate Authorities (CA). Qubitekk’s product was developed specifically for the Industrial Control Systems (ICS) community and is the only quantum encryption solution to use quantum entangled photons to guarantee tamper detection and provide encryption secure against even a quantum computing attack.
Qubitekk’s stand-alone quantum transmitter and receivers communicate using traditional SMF-28e optical fibers. Key bit rates of 100kbps can be achieved over 20km of optical fiber for ultra-secure One-Time-Pad encryption. Lower key rates can be established over longer distances and used with AES256 encryption for higher bandwidth (i.e. >1Gbps) applications. A serial interface with Modbus protocol supports the transfer of keys and configuration settings between the Quantum Receivers and compatible third-party gateways or customized encryption equipment.
QKD Demonstrator for R&D
Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) represents one of the first real-world applications of quantum entanglement and quantum theory. Today, there is much interest among Academia and industry to further study and expand this technology. To help demonstrate the protocols and measurement methods involved in QKD, Qubitekk has created the QKD Demonstrator. The QKD Demonstrator is a flexible QKD platform that can be used to demonstrate polarization entangled QKD and/or to reconfigure to explore new quantum cryptography implementations. An HDMI output from the Quantum Receivers allows quantum keys established between the two receivers to to be visualized on a monitor (monitors not included) along with the Quantum Bit Error Rate (QBER).
The QKD Demonstrator uses special polarization maintaining optical fibers and is limited to transmission distances less than 1 km. The system achieves 1kbps key transfer rates over 1km of optical fiber. The system utilizes an FPGA for low-level functions while using a configurable Raspberry Pi 3 as the I/O interface for the device. Python code for programming the Raspberry Pi 3 and extracting/transferring keys from the QKD Demonstrator is included.
Qubitekk’s HackerBox is an add-on device for the QKD Demonstrator. It is a best attempt at potentially eavesdropping on a quantum secured line. The HackerBox consists a fiber optic switch, a polarizing beamsplitter, two single photon counting detectors, and a polarized output “near single photon” laser. The HackerBox attempts to intercept, measure, and reproduce a polarization-entangled single photon. With its transparent cover and illuminated light paths, it is an effective tool for demonstrating that entangled photons cannot be measured (or eavesdropped on) without detection.
When used with the QKD Demonstrator, the HackerBox allows the key bit rate of the QKD Demonstrator to be manually controlled and slowed down for more visual comparison of shared keys. When the HackerBox attempts to eavesdrop on the communications between two quantum receivers, the Quantum Bit Error Rate can be seen to visibly increase.
QKD Quantum Repeater (coming soon)
Long distance QKD has been an elusive goal for many decades. Because entangled photons cannot be cloned, the concept of a “repeater” that can measure and amplify a quantum signal has not been possible. However, recent developments at Qubitekk are leading closer to a QKD Quantum Repeater based on Quantum Teleportation.