Quantum Information Science: Applications, Global Research and Development, and Policy Considerations
Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a method of securing communications that uses quantum physics, rather than mathematical algorithms, to safeguard data sent over unprotected networks. However, signals traveling over fiber-optic cable weaken at about 60 miles and must be retransmitted. Quantum repeaters can extend the distance the signal can be sent, but they significantly increase the complexity of the process. The communications are not only secure, but any eavesdropping attempt will destroy the communication, revealing the eavesdropping attempt.
The Chinese government has been spending heavily on QKD, but many analysts in North America and Europe do not believe that the benefits over existing nonquantum technologies outweigh the costs associated with QKD, making commercial demand difficult to ascertain.
Assessment of the Future Economic Impact of Quantum Information Science, IDA.
Congressional Research Service 2
• Finding 6: In principle, quantum key distribution (QKD) provides natural information theoretic (Shannon) cryptographic security. QKD systems do not support authenticated key exchange.
• Finding 7: QKD has not been implemented with sufficient capability or security to be deployed for DoD mission use. The Task Force concurs with the National Security Agency (NSA)’s assessment of QKD certification.
• Finding 8: QKD developments and use by foreign parties should be understood and tracked.