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Vulnerability of Satellite Quantum Key Distribution to Disruption from Ground-Based Lasers

by 1,2,*,†, 1,† and 3,†
1
International Space Centre, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6009, Australia
2
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, Department of Physics, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6009, Australia
3
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Daniele Dequal
Sensors 2021, 21(23), 7904; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21237904
Received: 18 October 2021 / Revised: 11 November 2021 / Accepted: 23 November 2021 / Published: 26 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Satellite Quantum Communications)
Satellite-mediated quantum key distribution (QKD) is set to become a critical technology for quantum-secure communication over long distances. While satellite QKD cannot be effectively eavesdropped, we show it can be disrupted (or ‘jammed’) with relatively simple and readily available equipment. We developed an atmospheric attenuation and satellite optical scattering model to estimate the rate of excess noise photons that can be injected into a satellite QKD channel by an off-axis laser, and calculated the effect this added noise has on the quantum bit error rate. We show that a ground-based laser on the order of 1 kW can significantly disrupt modern satellite QKD systems due to photons scattering off the satellite being detected by the QKD receiver on the ground. This class of laser can be purchased commercially, meaning such a method of disruption could be a serious threat to effectively securing high-value communications via satellite QKD in the future. We also discuss these results in relation to likely future developments in satellite-mediated QKD systems, and countermeasures that can be taken against this, and related methods, of disruption. View Full-Text
Keywords: quantum key distribution; satellite; security quantum key distribution; satellite; security
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gozzard, D.R.; Walsh, S.; Weinhold, T. Vulnerability of Satellite Quantum Key Distribution to Disruption from Ground-Based Lasers. Sensors 2021, 21, 7904. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21237904

AMA Style

Gozzard DR, Walsh S, Weinhold T. Vulnerability of Satellite Quantum Key Distribution to Disruption from Ground-Based Lasers. Sensors. 2021; 21(23):7904. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21237904

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gozzard, David R., Shane Walsh, and Till Weinhold. 2021. "Vulnerability of Satellite Quantum Key Distribution to Disruption from Ground-Based Lasers" Sensors 21, no. 23: 7904. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21237904

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