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October 30, 2020

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Secure optical communication using a quantum alarm

Gong, Y., Kumar, R., Wonfor, A. et al. Secure optical communication using a quantum alarm. Light Sci Appl 9, 170 (2020).

Optical fibre networks are advancing rapidly to meet growing traffic demands. Security issues, including attack management, have become increasingly important for optical communication networks because of the vulnerabilities associated with tapping light from optical fibre links. Physical layer security often requires restricting access to channels and periodic inspections of link performance. In this paper, we report how quantum communication techniques can be utilized to detect a physical layer attack. We present an efficient method for monitoring the physical layer security of a high-data-rate classical optical communication network using a modulated continuous-variable quantum signal. We describe the theoretical and experimental underpinnings of this monitoring system and the monitoring accuracy for different monitored parameters. We analyse its performance for both unamplified and amplified optical links. The technique represents a novel approach for applying quantum signal processing to practical optical communication networks and compares well with classical monitoring methods. We conclude by discussing the challenges facing its practical application, its differences with respect to existing quantum key distribution methods, and its usage in future secure optical transport network planning.