Fieldlab for quantum safe and secure communication

How can we keep our information and communication safe and secure after quantum computers have become reality? That question is central to the recently awarded Dutch Science Agenda project ‘Fieldlab Quantum Cryptography Solutions for Safe Society (FIQCS)’, led by TU/e researchers Sharon Dolmans, Chigo Okonkwo and Idelfonso Tafur Monroy.

The currently implemented methods of encrypting information to keep it private and secure could be potentially cracked by capable quantum computers. That is why, parallel to developing quantum computing technology, researchers at TU/e are also working on novel so-called quantum secure and post-quantum security solutions. IIn the FIQCS consortium, TU Eindhoven, TNO, Single Quantum, Effect Photonics, ID Quantique, CEN-CENELEC, PhotonDelta and Quantum Delta NL together with companies and international partners will discuss, develop and test critical Quantum Key Distribution solutions for future-proof secure private communications.

‘This is a truly interdisciplinary effort comprising social scientists, natural scientists and engineers,’ Assistant Professor of Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Sharon Dolmans says. ‘We will explore the requirements of quantum secure communication with stakeholders such as energy companies, banks, and manufacturers of autonomous driving applications. What are the viewpoints of various stakeholders on assessing possible quantum threats and what do they need to secure their operations?’

The researchers aim for a ripple effect, Dolmans says. ‘We start by organizing discussions and meetings with the usual suspects that are currently involved in quantum technology development. From there we aim to raise broader awareness of the necessity for other organizations to get involved and engage a large community for the societally aligned development of quantum security solutions.

“With this project, we will be able to translate quantum technology into solutions that are very relevant for our society. It is exciting to be part of this group effort.”

 Sharon Dolmans | Assistant professor

Make good use of testbed

The project will capitalize on the hardware, software and evaluation testbed infrastructure developed within the Quantum Delta NL National Growth Fund, since the aim is not only to get the discussion on quantum security going, but also to simultaneously experiment and test different quantum cryptography solutions in the Eindhoven Quantum Secure Communications testbed. Dolmans emphasizes that these experiments will go beyond technology being developed at TU/e. ‘We will be assessing the merits and issues with different technologies with a broad range of stakeholders to stimulate alignment and generate momentum. What we want to prevent, is that by the time the quantum computer threat becomes a reality, we will be stuck with many different, incompatible security solutions.’

The explicit aim to work toward multi-vendor interoperability between devices and systems to create end-to-end provision of security is also why developing a roadmap toward standardization and certification is an explicit part of the project. ‘In consultation with stakeholders we want to establish prioritized requirements for safe and secure quantum communication technology. What needs to be developed to be able to serve different parties with the same solutions? How can existing systems connect to a quantum network? And how can users establish whether their communication channels are indeed secure from beginning to end?’

Dolmans is very pleased the FIQCS consortium was awarded funding to develop the Fieldlab: ‘With this project, we will be able to translate quantum technology into solutions that are very relevant for our society. It is exciting to be part of this group effort.’