Abstract

In this paper we explore how recent technologies can improve the security of optical networks. In particular, we study how to use quantum key distribution (QKD) in common optical network infrastructures and propose a method to overcome its distance limitations. QKD is the first technology offering information theoretic secret-key distribution that relies only on the fundamental principles of quantum physics. Point-to-point QKD devices have reached a mature industrial state; however, these devices are severely limited in distance, since signals at the quantum level (e.g., single photons) are highly affected by the losses in the communication channel and intermediate devices. To overcome this limitation, intermediate nodes (i.e., repeaters) are used. Both quantum-regime and trusted, classical repeaters have been proposed in the QKD literature, but only the latter can be implemented in practice. As a novelty, we propose here a new QKD network model based on the use of not fully trusted intermediate nodes, referred to as weakly trusted repeaters. This approach forces the attacker to simultaneously break several paths to get access to the exchanged key, thus improving significantly the security of the network. We formalize the model using network codes and provide real scenarios that allow users to exchange secure keys over metropolitan optical networks using only passive components. Moreover, the theoretical framework allows one to extend these scenarios not only to accommodate more complex trust constraints, but also to consider robustness and resiliency constraints on the network.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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