Protecting our critical national services from cyber security attacks

Published on
January 25, 2024

Modern society relies upon electronic communications and the internet. But did you know that these systems are made up of optical fibre networks? As technology advances rapidly, there is also the potential for serious cybersecurity threats, and therefore, there is now a growing need to incorporate new security technologies into fibre networks. 

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is an established quantum technology, which was developed to secure communications and other transactions through the secure distribution of cryptographic keys. Researchers are now working hard to find out how we can integrate QKD, alongside new quantum-resistant cryptography, into existing fibre networks.

The UK’s first Quantum Network

Quantum networks are being developed in numerous countries across the world, particularly in China and the Netherlands. In the UK, we are developing national quantum networking capability through construction of the UKQN (the UK’s first Quantum Network) and UKQNtel.

The UKQN is over 410km inlength, and connects the metropolitan quantum networks in the cities of Bristol and Cambridge over the National Dark Fibre Facility.

The UKQNtel network extends over 125km and uses previously installed standard commercial grade optical fibre and provides a real-world environment for field trials of new quantum secure communications technologies and systems.

The UK’s quantum networks are paving the way for integration of quantum networks within the wider national communications infrastructure, in order to ensure cybersecurity in the future quantum-enabled world.



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