quantum key distribution

Can Quantum Key Distribution improve cybersecurity in SEA?

Despite the numerous cybersecurity solutions in the market, Southeast Asia continues to see increasing cyber threats and data breaches, so could Quantum Key Distribution be the answer? While small and medium enterprises are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, large enterprises and government agencies are often the industries targeted the most by cybercriminals.

According to INTERPOL’s ASEAN Cyberthreat Assessment 2021 report, the exponential increase of cybercrime requires organizations to explore more ways to manage sensitive information. As such, Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) solutions are gaining market traction in several advanced countries, as the solution applies the laws of physics and quantum mechanics to generate an un-hackable cryptographic algorithm, securing the transmission and retrieval of data.

Compared to other cybersecurity solutions, QKD is a secure communication method that implements a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics. Using properties found in quantum physics, the method exchanges cryptographic keys that are provable and guarantees security.

Toshiba’s Quantum Information Group explains that QKD allows users to securely exchange confidential information such as bank statements, health records and private calls over an untrusted communication channel such as the internet. It does that by distributing to the intended users a common secret key that can be used to encrypt — and thus protect, the information exchanged over the communication channel.

The security of the secret key rests upon the fundamental properties of individual quantum systems (photons, the particles of light) which are encoded and transmitted for the key generation. In the event that these photons are intercepted by an undesignated user, quantum physics guarantees that the intended users can perceive the eavesdropping, and consequently protect the communication.

The main challenge to Quantum Key Distribution implementation has been the integration of the system into current infrastructures and the use of QKD itself. While it has been proven to be secure in theory, there are still some vulnerabilities, especially in terms of the infrastructure. And this is where SpeQtral comes in.

SpeQtral, a Singaporean quantum technologies company, is on a mission to transform the world’s networks for the quantum revolution. SpeQtral and Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation recently announced that they have reached a definitive agreement to market and deploy QKD solutions to governments and enterprises in Southeast Asia.

Securing the region with Quantum Key Distribution

Potential users in Southeast Asia will understand the need for and consider the implementation of QKD solutions to secure their communications. With Singapore being a global hub for financial applications, the island nation serves as a focal point for telecommunications, data centers, and cloud connectivity infrastructure. As these industries process extremely important and high-value data, it is crucial to continually review the security of these communications and upgrade current systems to address future threats.

According to Taro Shimada, President and CEO, Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation, Toshiba has already established industry partnerships in Japan, the US, and the UK on early deployments of quantum secure communications. Together with SpeQtral, they will be able to support businesses in Singapore and Southeast Asia and can accelerate the global expansion of QKD.

“Southeast Asia is conducive for the adoption of new and leading-edge technologies such as QKD. There is a strong emphasis on the cybersecurity of our digital ecosystem and creation of a resilient communications infrastructure,” said Chune Yang Lum, CEO of SpeQtral.

Toshiba started research into quantum cryptography in 2003 at the Cambridge Research Laboratory of Toshiba Research Europe Limited. Since then, they have demonstrated several notable world firsts. Toshiba was the first to announce quantum key distribution over 100 km of fiber in 2004 and the first with a continuous key rate exceeding 1 Mbit/second in 2010 and 10 Mbit/second in 2017.

The Toshiba QKD system uses an efficient implementation of the BB84 protocol, which has been rigorously proven to be secure from all types of attacks, even those using a quantum computer. It deploys secure, quantum-safe authentication of the data used to form the quantum keys.

The QKD platform, which was officially launched last year, operates over fiber-optic cables based on decades of research and development. These fibre-QKD platform products can address quantum-secure communication requirements over hundreds of kilometers in metropolitan areas.

The collaboration will see SpeQtral developing space-based QKD systems using satellites that can cover across continents, further amplifying the reach of these systems. Since a long-distance quantum-secure network requires both satellite and terrestrial QKD systems, SpeQtral and Toshiba can strongly complement each other.