Progress made in developing a quantum computer promises to ultimately compromise existing public key infrastructure. Quantum Key Distribution is a new method for distributing symmetric keys between two parties. Unlike public key methods used today, QKD is a purely hardware-based solution that leverages quantum physics phenomena to guarantee the secure distribution of keys. Using quantum entanglement between photons distributed over optical fibers, this technology is impervious to eavesdropping or key interception and it requires very little maintenance or oversight to operate.
Secure distribution of symmetric keys has attracted growing attention recently as emerging technologies have begun to threaten the security of existing public key cryptography. The security of public-key cryptography is predicated on the assumption that certain mathematical problems cannot be solved quickly with computers. Although this assumption has held for classical computers, it is widely recognized to not be true for newly emerging quantum computers. Although efforts are underway to identify new algorithms that may eventually strengthen public-key cryptography, none of these post-quantum algorithms have been proven secure.
Because its security is not based on mathematical complexity, QKD is not vulnerable to attack from a quantum computer. The commercialization of QKD technology has also experienced great progress over the past few years. Use of the technology for securing financial communications and critical infrastructure ICS networks has recently been demonstrated. In this presentation we highlight the integration of QKD with the SSP-21 protocol first presented at S4x17. A shared-secret mode was added to the SSP-21 standard that does not use any public-key algorithms, and can accept symmetric keys from a QKD receiver.