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Toshiba, BT to Trial Commercial Quantum-Secured Network

London

London financial district at sunset. [Image: Gary Yeowell/Getty Images]

United Kingdom–based BT and Japan-based Toshiba Corp. reported in early October that they are building and testing a commercial quantum-secured network that will cover three of London’s high-tech centers, to protect sensitive data from quantum-computer-enabled cyberattacks.

BT and Toshiba say their multi-node network is the first of its kind for the private sector and will provide data services secured using Toshiba’s quantum key distribution (QKD) and post-quantum cryptography (PQC) technology, deployed across BT’s Openreach Optical Spectrum Access Filter Connect (OSA FC) solution.

Preventing “store today, crack later” attacks

“Secure, robust, and trusted data transfer is increasingly crucial to our customers across the globe, so we’re proud of the role our quantum R&D program is playing in making the world’s networks safer as we enter the dawn of a new age of quantum computing,” said BT chief technology officer Howard Watson in a recent company press release.

Securing networks ahead of the quantum-computing age is a growing concern for companies that have large amounts of data stored at various physical locations. These data are at risk of “store today, crack later” cyberattacks—in which a target’s classical encryption keys and encrypted data are stored by hackers, allowing them to break in when quantum computers become available. According to BT and Toshiba, such quantum cyberattacks are possible within five years and will become likely within ten years.

From two secure sites to three

The quantum-secured London network will connect three high-tech locations in the Docklands, City and M4 Corridor, and is a progression of BT and Toshiba’s two-way quantum secure link between the National Composites Centre and Centre for Modelling and Simulation in Bristol.

The new network will reportedly transmit thousands of quantum encryption keys per second along the same fiber optic cable used for data traffic, eliminating the need for additional hardware for key distribution. According to the two firms, their “QKD-based security is unique because the key-exchange is secure against any computational or mathematical advance, therefore it is immune to any present or future attacks by quantum computers.”

BT and Toshiba say the network will initially be used by commercial entities, with the ultimate goal of serving “multiple customers across a wide metropolitan area.”

 

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