Security of quantum key distribution with intensity correlations

Víctor Zapatero1, Álvaro Navarrete1, Kiyoshi Tamaki2, and Marcos Curty1

1Escuela de Ingeniería de Telecomunicación, Department of Signal Theory and Communications, ­University of Vigo, Vigo E-36310, Spain
2Faculty of Engineering, University of Toyama, Gofuku 3190, Toyama 930-8555, Japan

Find this paper interesting or want to discuss? Scite or leave a comment on SciRate.


The decoy-state method in quantum key distribution (QKD) is a popular technique to approximately achieve the performance of ideal single-photon sources by means of simpler and practical laser sources. In high-speed decoy-state QKD systems, however, intensity correlations between succeeding pulses leak information about the users' intensity settings, thus invalidating a key assumption of this approach. Here, we solve this pressing problem by developing a general technique to incorporate arbitrary intensity correlations to the security analysis of decoy-state QKD. This technique only requires to experimentally quantify two main parameters: the correlation range and the maximum relative deviation between the selected and the actually emitted intensities. As a side contribution, we provide a non-standard derivation of the asymptotic secret key rate formula from the non-asymptotic one, in so revealing a necessary condition for the significance of the former.

Quantum key distribution enables secure and remote delivery of cryptographic keys based on the laws of quantum mechanics. The main practical interest of QKD is that, when combined with the one-time-pad encryption scheme, it provides information-theoretic security, unconcerned about future (classical or quantum) computational advances of the adversary. For this reason, QKD has experienced a tremendous development both in theory and in practice since its conception, in so becoming the most mature application of quantum information science.

Nevertheless, despite this progress, various challenges must be addressed in order to achieve the widespread adoption of QKD. In particular, fiber-based QKD schemes are the most widely deployed, and due to the low transmissivity of the signals in the optical fibers (which decreases exponentially with the fiber length), one major challenge is to achieve high secret key rates at long distances. For this purpose, one possibility is to increase the repetition rate of the laser source in the transmitter station. Nevertheless, for clock rates of the order of GHz, intensity correlations between succeeding pulses appear, possibly opening a security loophole. To be precise, in the absence of ideal single-photon sources, most QKD protocols use lasers that operate emitting phase-randomised weak coherent pulses (PRWCPs). These sources allow the QKD users to implement the so-called decoy-state method, a standard procedure to tightly lower bound the extractable secret key length of a QKD session. Importantly, the central assumption of decoy-state-based QKD is that, for any given signal, its detection probability conditioned on the emission of a certain number of photons does not depend on the intensity of the pulse, i.e., on its mean photon number. However, this assumption fails in the presence of a side channel leaking information about the intensity setting selected in each protocol round, and for GHz (or higher frequency) repetition rates, one such side channel is represented by intensity correlations. Intuitively, an adversary could exploit the correlations to gain information about previous intensity settings, which would allow her to make the $n$-photon click and error probabilities dependent on the setting. This being the case, and aiming to develop ultrafast decoy-state-based QKD systems, the question arises of how to account for arbitrary intensity correlations in the security analysis. In this regard, the existing results are notably restricted, as they mostly consider setting-choice-independent correlations which do not capture the major threat.

In this work, we solve this pressing problem by developing the missing security analysis for decoy-state QKD with arbitrary intensity correlations. The central idea —originally used in the context of Trojan horse attacks in QKD— is to pose a restriction on the maximum bias that Eve can induce between the $n$-photon click and error probabilities associated to different intensity settings. Particularly, we accomplish this task using a fundamental result that essentially follows from the Cauchy-Schwarz (CS) inequality in complex Hilbert spaces. This result, which we refer to as the CS constraint, provides tighter bounds on the indistinguishability of non-orthogonal quantum states than the well-known trace distance argument. Also, despite being asymptotic, our approach is experimental friendly because of two reasons. On the one hand, it fully characterizes the intensity correlations via two well-understood physical parameters: the correlation range, $\xi$, and the maximum relative deviation, $\delta_{\rm max}$, between the selected intensity settings and the actually emitted intensities. On the other hand, it allows for improved secret key rates in case a specific correlations model is known to describe the intensity modulator.

As a related contribution of this work, we provide a non-standard derivation of the asymptotic secret key rate formula, relying on a statistical condition that becomes non-trivial in the most general context of coherent attacks and arbitrary intensity correlations. For the problem at hand, the asymptotic formula tolerates a restricted type of coherent attacks that we characterize in detail.

► BibTeX data

► References

[1] Scarani, V. et al. The security of practical quantum key distribution. Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 1301 (2009).

[2] Lo, H.-K., Curty, M. & Tamaki, K. Secure quantum key distribution. Nat. Photonics 8, 595 (2014).

[3] Xu, F., Ma, X., Zhang, Q., Lo, H.-K., & Pan, J.-W. Secure quantum key distribution with realistic devices. Rev. Mod. Phys. 92, 025002 (2020).

[4] Vernam, G. S., Trans. Am. Inst. Electr. Eng. XLV, 295 (1926).

[5] Bennett, C. H. & Brassard, G. Quantum cryptography: public key distribution and coin tossing. In Proc. IEEE International Conference on Computers, Systems & Signal Processing, 175–179 (IEEE, NY, Bangalore, India, 1984).

[6] Yin, H. L., et al. Measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution over a 404 km optical fiber. Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 190501 (2016).

[7] Boaron, A., et al. Secure quantum key distribution over 421 km of optical fiber. Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 190502 (2018).

[8] Fang, X. T., et al. Implementation of quantum key distribution surpassing the linear rate-transmittance bound. Nat. Photonics 14, 422-425 (2020).

[9] Chen, J. P., et al. Sending-or-not-sending with independent lasers: secure twin-field quantum key distribution over 509 km. Phys. Rev. Lett. 124, 070501 (2020).

[10] Yoshino, K. I. et al. Quantum key distribution with an efficient countermeasure against correlated intensity fluctuations in optical pulses. npj Quantum Inf. 4, 1-8 (2018).

[11] Grünenfelder, F., Boaron, A., Rusca, D., Martin, A. & Zbinden, H. Performance and security of 5 GHz repetition rate polarization-based quantum key distribution. Appl. Phys. Lett. 117, 144003 (2020).

[12] Hwang, W. Y. Quantum key distribution with high loss: toward global secure communication. Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 057901 (2003).

[13] Lo, H.-K., Ma, X. & Chen, K. Decoy state quantum key distribution. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 230504 (2005).

[14] Wang, X.-B. Beating the photon-number-splitting attack in practical quantum cryptography. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 230503 (2005).

[15] Lim, C. C. W., Curty, M., Walenta, N., Xu, F. & Zbinden, H. Concise security bounds for practical decoy-state quantum key distribution. Phys. Rev. A 89, 022307 (2014).

[16] Tamaki, K., Curty, M., & Lucamarini, M. Decoy-state quantum key distribution with a leaky source. New J. Phys. 18, 065008 (2016).

[17] Nagamatsu Y., Mizutani, A., Ikuta, R., Yamamoto, T., Imoto, N., & Tamaki, K. Security of quantum key distribution with light sources that are not independently and identically distributed. Phys. Rev. A 93, 042325 (2016).

[18] Mizutani, A. et al. Quantum key distribution with setting-choice-independently correlated light sources. npj Quantum Inf. 5, 8 (2019).

[19] Roberts, G. L. et al. Patterning-effect mitigating intensity modulator for secure decoy-state quantum key distribution. Optics letters 43, 5110-5113 (2018).

[20] Pereira, M., Kato, G., Mizutani, A., Curty, M. & Tamaki, K. Quantum key distribution with correlated sources. Science Advances 6, eaaz4487 (2020).

[21] Lo, H.-K., Curty, M., & Qi, B. Measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution. Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 130503 (2012).

[22] Lucamarini, M., Yuan, Z., Dynes, J., & Shields, A. Overcoming the rate–distance limit of quantum key distribution without quantum repeaters. Nature 557, 400 (2018).

[23] Lo, H.-K. & Preskill, J. Security of quantum key distribution using weak coherent states with nonrandom phases. Quantum Inf. Comput. 7, 431–458 (2007).

[24] Mitzenmacher, M., & Upfal, E. Probability and computing: Randomization and probabilistic techniques in algorithms and data analysis (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

[25] Hoeffding, W. Probability inequalities for sums of bounded random variables. J. Am. Stat. Assoc. 58, 13-30 (1963).

[26] Zapatero, V., & Curty, M. Secure quantum key distribution with a subset of malicious devices. npj Quantum Inf. 7, 1-8 (2021).

[27] Nielsen, M. & Chuang, I. Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, Cambridge University Press (2000).

[28] Navarrete, Á., Pereira, M., Curty, M., & Tamaki K. Practical quantum key distribution that is secure against side channels. Phys. Rev. Appl. 15, 034072 (2021).

[29] Bazaraa, M. S., Jarvis, J. J., & Sherali, H. D. Linear programming and network flows, John Wiley & Sons (2008).

[30] Tomamichel, M., Lim, C. C. W., Gisin, N., & Renner, R. Tight finite-key analysis for quantum cryptography. Nat. Commun. 3, 1-6 (2012).

[31] Serfling, R. J. Probability inequalities for the sum in sampling without replacement. Ann. Stat., 39-48 (1974).

[32] Billingsley, P. Convergence of probability measures, John Wiley & Sons (2013).

Cited by

[1] Feng-Yu Lu, Ze-Hao Wang, Víctor Zapatero, Jia-Lin Chen, Shuang Wang, Zhen-Qiang Yin, Marcos Curty, De-Yong He, Rong Wang, Wei Chen, Guan-Jie Fan-Yuan, Guang-Can Guo, and Zheng-Fu Han, "Experimental Demonstration of Fully Passive Quantum Key Distribution", Physical Review Letters 131 11, 110802 (2023).

[2] Víctor Zapatero, Álvaro Navarrete, and Marcos Curty, "Implementation Security in Quantum Key Distribution", Advanced Quantum Technologies 2300380 (2024).

[3] Anqi Huang, Akihiro Mizutani, Hoi-Kwong Lo, Vadim Makarov, and Kiyoshi Tamaki, "Characterization of State-Preparation Uncertainty in Quantum Key Distribution", Physical Review Applied 19 1, 014048 (2023).

[4] Shan-Feng Shao, Xiao-Yu Cao, Yuan-Mei Xie, Jie Gu, Wen-Bo Liu, Yao Fu, Hua-Lei Yin, and Zeng-Bing Chen, "Phase-Matching Quantum Key Distribution Without Intensity Modulation", Physical Review Applied 20 2, 024046 (2023).

[5] Cong Jiang, Xiao-Long Hu, Zong-Wen Yu, and Xiang-Bin Wang, "Side-channel security of practical quantum key distribution", Physical Review Research 6 1, 013266 (2024).

[6] Cong Jiang, Zong-Wen Yu, Xiao-Long Hu, and Xiang-Bin Wang, "Robust twin-field quantum key distribution through sending or not sending", National Science Review 10 4, nwac186 (2023).

[7] Feng-Yu Lu, Ze-Hao Wang, Shuang Wang, Zhen-Qiang Yin, Jia-Lin Chen, Xiang Kang, De-Yong He, Wei Chen, Guan-Jie Fan-Yuan, Guang-Can Guo, and Zheng-Fu Han, "Intensity Tomography Method for Secure and High-Performance Quantum Key Distribution", Journal of Lightwave Technology 41 15, 4895 (2023).

[8] Xiang Kang, Feng-Yu Lu, Shuang Wang, Jia-Lin Chen, Ze-Hao Wang, Zhen-Qiang Yin, De-Yong He, Wei Chen, Guan-Jie Fan-Yuan, Guang-Can Guo, and Zheng-Fu Han, "Patterning-Effect Calibration Algorithm for Secure Decoy-State Quantum Key Distribution", Journal of Lightwave Technology 41 1, 75 (2023).

[9] Jie Gu, Xiao-Yu Cao, Yao Fu, Zong-Wu He, Ze-Jie Yin, Hua-Lei Yin, and Zeng-Bing Chen, "Experimental measurement-device-independent type quantum key distribution with flawed and correlated sources", Science Bulletin 67 21, 2167 (2022).

[10] Víctor Zapatero and Marcos Curty, "Finite-key security of passive quantum key distribution", Physical Review Applied 21 1, 014018 (2024).

[11] Akihiro Mizutani and Go Kato, "Security of round-robin differential-phase-shift quantum-key-distribution protocol with correlated light sources", Physical Review A 104 6, 062611 (2021).

[12] Álvaro Navarrete and Marcos Curty, "Improved finite-key security analysis of quantum key distribution against Trojan-horse attacks", Quantum Science and Technology 7 3, 035021 (2022).

[13] Anurag Anshu and Rahul Jain, "Efficient methods for one-shot quantum communication", npj Quantum Information 8 1, 97 (2022).

[14] Xoel Sixto, Víctor Zapatero, and Marcos Curty, "Security of Decoy-State Quantum Key Distribution with Correlated Intensity Fluctuations", Physical Review Applied 18 4, 044069 (2022).

[15] Hua-Jian Ding, Jing-Yang Liu, Xing-Yu Zhou, Chun-Hui Zhang, Jian Li, and Qin Wang, "Improved Finite-Key Security Analysis of Measurement-Device-Independent Quantum Key Distribution Against a Trojan-Horse Attack", Physical Review Applied 19 4, 044022 (2023).

[16] Margarida Pereira, Guillermo Currás-Lorenzo, Álvaro Navarrete, Akihiro Mizutani, Go Kato, Marcos Curty, and Kiyoshi Tamaki, "Modified BB84 quantum key distribution protocol robust to source imperfections", Physical Review Research 5 2, 023065 (2023).

[17] Wen-Lin Wang, Xing-Yu Zhou, Ming-Shuo Sun, Chun-Hui Zhang, and Qin Wang, "Side-Channel Free Measurement-Device- Independent Quantum Key Distribution Based on Source Monitoring", IEEE Photonics Journal 15 5, 1 (2023).

[18] Federico Berra, Costantino Agnesi, Andrea Stanco, Marco Avesani, Sebastiano Cocchi, Paolo Villoresi, and Giuseppe Vallone, "Modular source for near-infrared quantum communication", EPJ Quantum Technology 10 1, 27 (2023).

[19] Guillermo Currás-Lorenzo, Shlok Nahar, Norbert Lütkenhaus, Kiyoshi Tamaki, and Marcos Curty, "Security of quantum key distribution with imperfect phase randomisation", Quantum Science and Technology 9 1, 015025 (2024).

[20] Feng-Yu Lu, Peng Ye, Ze-Hao Wang, Shuang Wang, Zhen-Qiang Yin, Rong Wang, Xiao-Juan Huang, Wei Chen, De-Yong He, Guan-Jie Fan-Yuan, Guang-Can Guo, and Zheng-Fu Han, "Hacking measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution", Optica 10 4, 520 (2023).

[21] Hua-Jian Ding, Xing-Yu Zhou, Chun-Hui Zhang, Jian Li, and Qin Wang, "Measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution with insecure sources", Optics Letters 47 3, 665 (2022).

The above citations are from Crossref's cited-by service (last updated successfully 2024-06-18 01:47:29) and SAO/NASA ADS (last updated successfully 2024-06-18 01:47:30). The list may be incomplete as not all publishers provide suitable and complete citation data.