The Engineering of Software-Defined Quantum Key Distribution Networks

06/29/2019
by   Alejandro Aguado, et al.
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Quantum computers will change the cryptographic panorama. A technology once believed to lay far away into the future is increasingly closer to real world applications. Quantum computers will break the algorithms used in our public key infrastructure and in our key exchange protocols, forcing a complete retooling of the cryptography as we know it. Quantum Key distribution is a physical layer technology immune to quantum or classical computational threats. However, it requires a physical substrate, and optical fiber has been the usual choice. Most of the time used just as a point to point link for the exclusive transport of the delicate quantum signals. Its integration in a real-world shared network has not been attempted so far. Here we show how the new programmable software network architectures, together with specially designed quantum systems can be used to produce a network that integrates classical and quantum communications, including management, in a single, production-level infrastructure. The network can also incorporate new quantum-safe algorithms and use the existing security protocols, thus bridging the gap between today's network security and the quantum-safe network of the future. This can be done in an evolutionary way, without zero-day migrations and the corresponding upfront costs. We also present how the technologies have been deployed in practice using a production network.

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