Enhanced security has often been cited as an important benefit of optical CDMA (O-CDMA) signaling. However, the quality and degree of security enhancement has not been closely examined in the literature. This paper examines the degree and types of security that may be provided by O-CDMA encoding. A quantitative analysis of data confidentiality is presented for O-CDMA encoding techniques that use both time spreading and wavelength hopping. The probability of successful data interception is calculated as a function of several parameters, including signal-to-noise ratio and fraction of total available system capacity. For reasonable choices of system and encoding parameters, it is shown that increasing code complexity can increase the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) required for an eavesdropper to "break" the encoding by only a few dB, while the processing of fewer than 100 bits by an eavesdropper can reduce the SNR required to break the encoding by up to 12 dB. The overall degree of confidentiality obtainable through O-CDMA encoding is also compared with that obtainable through standard cryptography. time-spreading/wavelength-hopping in particular, and O-CDMA in general, are found to provide considerably less data confidentiality than cryptography, and the confidentiality provided is found to be highly dependent on system design and implementation parameters.
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