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Nokia has announced a successful proof of concept (PoC) of quantum-safe networks (QSN) in a complex optical network ring topology across three locations in Greece with HellasQCI, the Greek National Quantum Communication Infrastructure Consortium.
The two firms noted that governments and research organisations are currently ramping up investing in quantum technology to address issues such as sustainability, defence and other societal challenges. In particular, they emphasised how enterprises are already using it across industries for applications such as advanced financial computations, shaping the future of electric vehicles, or to better understand the impact of climate change on the power grid.
However, the firms highlighted precisely how the development of quantum computing also introduces an ability for this technology to easily penetrate systems previously regarded as secure, for example, by breaking existing encryption and posing a threat could easily damage life-sustaining critical infrastructure. As a result, HellasQCI and Nokia believe there is an urgent need to ensure networks are ready for quantum attacks through consortiums.
HellasQCI conducts tests and trials on systems before bad actors can attempt to leverage quantum computing, overwriting current encryption technologies. The HellasQCI consortium consists of 14 public organisations and private corporations, and is led by GRNET as project coordinator and NKUA as its technical coordinator.
GRNET operates under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Digital Governance, providing networking, cloud computing, high-performance computing and e-infrastructures. It connects more than 150 organisations across 50 cities and serves hundreds of thousands of users daily in public administration, education, research, health and culture.
Nokia added that test environments such as HellasQCI’s are crucial to ensure networks. Its PoC aimed to demonstrate the feasibility and the benefits of quantum-safe networks for securing critical communications, running use cases with the consortium members from government, research and education, defence, law enforcement and private sector critical infrastructure owners to ensure quantum-safe connectivity infrastructure.
The PoC was performed on a ring connecting three nodes in GRNET’s Data Centre, the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) Network Operations Centre (NOC), the NKUA Department of Informatics and Telecommunications (DIT), and Optics Communications and Photonic Technology Laboratory (OPTCOMMS-PTL).
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Nokia demonstrated hybrid key generation using both classic and quantum physics to generate and distribute quantum-safe keys for encrypted optical services. The Nokia QSN service showcased the contribution of the Nokia security management server (SMS) to orchestrate quantum-safe keys and provide continuous monitoring and management of quantum secured connectivity.
The SMS is the quantum-safe key orchestrator, managing key requests and assuring quantum-safe services for the given crypto period. Upon continuous monitoring of quantum-safe connectivity service, the system’s SMS can increase secured connectivity resiliency automatically by reverting to classic physics-based keys in case of issues on the QKD layer.
“We are very pleased with the successful completion of the PoC with Nokia, which is one of the key milestones for the HellasQCI project that establishes the National Quantum Communication Infrastructure in Greece,” said Ognjen Prnjat, director for European infrastructures and projects directorate at GRNET.
“GRNET plays a crucial role in various European infrastructures for research and education, and we are honoured to have been given the responsibility by the Ministry of Digital Governance to lead the implementation of this innovative quantum network infrastructure as part of the pan-European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) initiative. The PoC demonstrated the feasibility and the benefits of quantum-safe networks for securing critical communications in Greece and in Europe, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Nokia and other partners to develop and deploy an operational and secure EuroQCI.”
James Watt, head of the optical networks division at Nokia, added: “We are proud to partner with HellasQCI and its consortium members to demonstrate our QSN solution in this challenging and innovative PoC. Test environments like this are crucial to ensure networks are ready for quantum-level cyber security attacks, which are inevitable as quantum computing becomes more accessible around the world.”