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Researchers Develop Simple Way to Ward Off Trojan Attacks on Quantum Cryptographic Systems

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Representation of the Trojan-horse attack against an optical QKD setup.

A team from Toshiba has devised a new approach to protecting secure computer messaging systems from Trojan attacks.

Credit: Phys. Rev. X 5, 031030

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is one of the emerging areas of study in the effort to create secure computer messaging systems.  QKD enables encrypted keys to be sent securely across public domain fiber networks safe from prying snoopers, but they are susceptible to Trojan attacks.  

A team from Toshiba has devised a new approach to protect the systems from such attacks, which involves modifying the transmitter to weaken the reflected light.  The researchers say the reflected light could be rendered too weak to reveal any useful information.  Their proposal calls for adding an attenuator, which would reduce the pulse to just one photon; an isolator, which would only permit outgoing light to pass through; and a filter, which would prevent the transfer of any wavelengths not initially specified to be in the channel.  

The researchers have built and tested a partial system with the new passive Trojan battler and they say it shields against Trojan attacks.  They also note it is a relatively inexpensive way to accomplish this task, and the devices can be easily installed.  

The next step is a prototype that will function as the basis for a product for delivery to customers.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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