Photon-counting imaging is integrated with optical encryption for information authentication. An image is double-random-phase encrypted, and a photon-limited encrypted image is obtained. The photon-counting encrypted image is generated with few photons and appears sparse; however, we show that it has sufficient information for decryption and authentication. The decrypted image cannot be easily visualized so that an additional layer of information protection is achieved. The authentication is carried out by recognition algorithms. This approach may make the verification process more robust against attacks. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on integrating photon-counting imaging and encryption for authentication.
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