Focus Area

Quantum secure networks

Focus Area leaders: Andreas Hulsing & Chigo Okonkwo

We aim to realize quantum-secure networks, with encryption based on principles of quantum physics and/or able to withstand attacks by quantum computers

Security of communications is essential to ensure proper operation of our infrastructure and confidentiality of information. Thus, networks need to be safe from attacks. For example, quantum computers can break the cryptography used today. Hence, we need solutions that secure our networks against such future quantum attackers. Quantum technology can play an enabling role here, as quantum encryption can make networks safe against quantum computers. Another option is post-quantum cryptography, that uses classical devices and resists quantum computers. Other fundamental requirements of security are integrity and authenticity of the information transmitted. These also have to be provided in a quantum-secure manner. A main and overarching challenge is to scale such security to the level of networks, and ensure end-to-end security.

We aim at realizing quantum-encrypted links, both fiber-based and free-space, using technologies that are scalable in cost and volume. An additional challenge is then to scale such links into quantum-encrypted networks, including the secure switch nodes and control plane, and design them in such a way that they are secure. The end goal here is to deliver end-to-end security. Such networks need to be robust and available, even under attacks. In parallel to this, we also aim at developing cryptographic systems, both the building blocks and the protocols, for all common communication applications that can withstand attacks by a quantum computer. Quantum-secure communication will prevent accidents, crime and terrorism, and will lead to higher trust in information.

This research will build in part on our expertise in (optical) networks, interconnects and devices, both classical and quantum-encrypted, and can be demonstrated by our unique quantum-key-distribution testbed. For another part, it will build on our strengths in coding and (post-quantum) cryptography, as well as our expertise on control and security of cyber-physical systems. Building on strong relations with national and international equipment and communications industry, we will establish further close relations with stakeholders in e.g., finance, energy and government.