RRI comes up with a simulation toolkit to ensure online safety

New Delhi, June 30, 2020: The recent
advisories by the Ministry of
Home Affairs to ensure
online communication via
secure platforms have highlighted
the increasing need
for measures to ensure security
in the virtual world as
Covid-19 confines most day
to day activities to the digital
space.
The secure part of any
information transfer protocol
is in the distribution of
the key used to encrypt and
decrypt the messages. Such
standard key distribution
schemes, usually based on
mathematical resolution of
problems, are vulnerable to
algorithmic breakthroughs
and possibility to run new
codes on the up and coming
quantum computers.
The solution to ensuring
the security of the key transfer
process lies in using the
laws of quantum physics,
wherein any eavesdropping
activity will leave tell-tale
signs and hence will be easily
detected.
This is achieved by using
Quantum Key Distribution
or QKD.
To tackle this challenge,
researchers from Raman
Research Institute (RRI), an
autonomous institute of the
Department of Science &
Technology (DST), Government
of India have come up
with a unique simulation
toolkit for end-to-end QKD
simulation named as ‘qkd-
Sim’, which is based on
modular principles that
allow it to be grown to different
classes of protocols
using various underpinning
technologies.
The research. led by Prof.
Urbasi Sinha and her team,
in collaboration with Prof.
Barry Sanders from the University
of Calgary, Canada
is a part of the Quantum
Experiments using Satellite
Technology (QuEST) project,
India’s first satellitebased
secure quantum communication
effort, supported
by the Indian Space
Research Organisation
(ISRO).
This work is going to
appear in the journal Physical
Review Applied (in
press).
The novelty of their toolkit
lies in its exhaustive inclusion
of different experimental
imperfections, both
device-based as well as
process-based.
Thus, their simulation
results will match with actual
experimental implementations
to much better accuracy
than any other existing
toolkit, making it a QKD
experimenter’s best friend.
As QKD is growing rapidly
in academic, industrial,
government and defence
laboratories, this newly
developed simulation toolkit,
accompanied by an
instructive application to the
uniquely designed B92
experiment, will be extremely
influential.
The B92 is a QKD protocol,
which uses single photons
and associated laws of
Physics like the Uncertainty
Principle and the No-
Cloning theorem to assure
perfect security.
“Secure error free communication
protocols are
assuming extraordinary
importance for which Quantum
key distribution (QKD)
is an attractive solution,
which relies on a cryptographic
protocol. A shared
random secret key known
only to the communicating
parties is employed to
encrypt and decrypt messages.
A unique property of
quantum key distribution is
that any break in attempt by
an unauthorized party is
immediately detected. This
is because any process of
measuring a quantum system
creates detectable
anomalies,” said Prof
Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary,
DST.
The research work is twofold
in its novelty as well as
process development.
On the one hand, they
have developed a simulation
toolkit, which bridges a significant
gap in the QKD
community.
On the other hand, they
have performed a novel
implementation of what is
called a prepare and measure
QKD protocol (B92),
which has higher key rates
and lower quantum bit error
rate than earlier reported
works following similar
source methodology.
In fact, this is India’s first
end to end free space QKD
experiment. It also has internationally
competitive key
rates and error rates.
RRI team plans to follow
this up by expanding the
current scope of qkdSim to
include entanglement based
QKD protocols and experimental
comparisons for the
same.
This can lead to a whole
new software that will be
highly beneficial to the
experimental secure quantum
communication community.
This first-of-its-kind practical
tool will be indispensable
to design, set up, optimize
and evaluate experiments
for demonstrating
QKD and will engender further
development to broaden
the simulation tool’s applicability.
With the advent of the
upcoming National Mission
on Quantum Technologies
and Applications, this work
provides the bedrock for
such developments in the
country and hence will be of
great interest.

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