Quantum key distribution (QKD)1 is a quantum technology already present in the market. This technology will become an essential point to secure our communication systems and infrastructure when today’s public key cryptography will be broken by either a mathematical algorithm or by, eventually, the development of quantum computers. One of the main task of quantum metrology and standardization in the next future is ensuring that QKD apparatus works as expected, and appropriate countermeasures against quantum hacking are taken. In this paper, we discuss the security of one of the QKD most critical (and quantum-hackered) components, i.e., single photon detectors based on fiber-pigtailed InGaAs SPADs. We analyze their secondary photon emission (backflash light) that can be exploited by an eavesdropper (Eve) to gain information without introducing errors in the key. We observed a significant light leakage from the detection event of fiber-pigtailed InGaAs SPADs. This may represent a significant security threat in all QKD apparatus. We provide a method to quantify the amount of potential information leakage, and we propose a solution to fix this potential security bug in practical QKD apparatus.
A. Meda, I. P. Degiovanni, A. Tosi, Z. L. Yuan, G. Brida, and M. Genovese, "Quantum key distribution security threat: the backflash light case," Proc. SPIE 10674, Quantum Technologies 2018, 1067418 (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 25, 2018; Published: 21 May 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2307704.
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