Danish quantum cryptography gains windfall of support

As quantum physics is getting more and more explored and researched by the day, numerous functions for the subtlest phenomena in nature are being used to power new technology. Today, scientists are researching using quantum computers in communication and data storage infrastructures to resist attacks, even from other quantum computers. Danish quantum computing is attempting to make this a reality.

Danish quantum computing has a strong workforce focusing on quantum communication. To capitalise on this new and highly rewarding field, the Innovation Fund Denmark invested DKK 22.5 million into CryptQ. This investment will be poured into a cost-effective and telecom-compatible quantum secure communication system, and the time of completion is expected to be 3 years.

Professor Ulrik Lund Andersen (left) and Associate Professor Tobias Gehring (right)

As with all quantum computing, state-of-the-art technology is needed to conduct the research and to construct the actual system. CryptQ will be bringing together several businesses. They include Zybersafe ApS (cryptographic hardware), Cryptomatic A/S (cryptology), and NKT Photonics A/S (fibre lasers). Experts in the field will also be brought in from DTU Physics, DTU Fotonik, Aarhus University, and the Danish Fundamental Metrology Institute.

‘The increasing global threat from cybercrime will spur a strong demand for security solutions resistant to future computing technologies. Being part of the CryptQ consortium we actively partake in Danish development of globally leading crypto-systems. We expect quantum safe cryptography to be a standard in zero-trust data environments within 5-20 years.’

Christian Jul Jensen CEO of Zybersafe ApS

Danske Bank and Energinet are included in the CryptQ consortium. They represent important application areas for quantum secured communications. Both of them will be hosting and collaborating on field tests.

‘In Danske Bank, we foresee many applicable benefits of the added security quantum key distribution will bring to our infrastructure. Hosting a field test in our datacenters will provide us firsthand experience with the technology. Later on, we hope to see a seamless large-scale implementation in our crypto chain.’

Peter Lidell, Head of Cyber Design and Cyber Build at Danske Bank

Through randomising information with an encryption key, cryptography will keep information secure from unwanted eyes. Symmetric encryption such as AES, the most common scheme, will be the same key to undo the randomisation. The receiver can the access the original information post-decryption.

Because of this, it is extremely crucial that only the sender and receiver will be in possession of the encryption key. Key distribution is an absolutely important part of the cryptographic system, as it will keep the data safe. This challenge is what made the CryptQ consortium tackle it using a technique called ‘continuous variable quantum key distribution’.

‘CV-QKD allows us to generate and distribute encryption keys though (sic) optical fibers and at the same time ensuring that no adversaries have gained information about the key. In CryptQ, we will develop a full-stack cryptographic system based on that principle.’

Project leader Tobias Gehring, associate professor at DTU Physics

To understand this, one must learn some quantum physics.

‘Say, I receive a pulse of light in some, to me, unknown quantum state and try to measure it. The result will be completely unpredictable and as a result I cannot trace back the original state of the pulse. There is a fundamental randomness to Nature at the quantum level.’

Professor Ulrik Lund Andersen at DTU Physics, part of the CryptQ leadership

As a consequence of this, copying unknown quantum states is prohibited. This is due to copying involving measurements. Prof. Andersen says this is ‘quantum cryptography’s ultimate claim to security’.

The CryptQ consortium is currently inviting stakeholders to join as associate partners given the opportunity to be updated in the development of this technology.

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