The world’s first satellite quantum communication network has been hacked

Quantum communication will be the safest form of information exchange in human history. But before that happens, quantum devices will be just as vulnerable to cyber attacks as normal communications systems.

The Chinese are currently pioneers in the development of quantum communication technology. Recently, they have successfully teleported photons into orbit using the benefits of quantum mechanics, specifically quantum entanglement. Limited tests of this technology have been ongoing there for two years in the government, military, energy and financial sectors. Communication is carried out with the highest and most secure encryption and security system currently available in the world.

Unfortunately, Cambridge University experts have reported that they have managed to hack a Chinese quantum satellite network. Although quantum key distribution (QKD) alone is unbreakable, currently devices that allow communication between two centers are not perfect, so they have many loopholes that hackers can use in their cyber attacks.

This is what happened with the Chinese quantum network tips beast. Researchers have identified vulnerabilities in quantum key distribution devices and generated fake keys. Many quantum key distribution systems use a laser and then an optical attenuator to prepare weak coherent states in the source. Their average number of photons must be pre-calibrated to guarantee secure key distribution.

However, photon calibration can be interrupted by a high power laser attack. Researchers presented four types of fiber optic attenuators used in quantum distribution key systems and revealed that two of them show a permanent decrease in attenuation after laser damage. This results in higher average photon numbers in prepared states and may allow eavesdroppers to break the key.

However, these problems can be overcome. In the future, when quantum technologies develop faster and on a larger scale, such errors will be successively eliminated. By the way of quantum networks, it is worth adding that although quantum information cannot be previewed, it will always be possible to try to break communication links. Such acacia will cause that the information will not reach the sender to the recipient, and this is enough to hinder the life of e.g. the army using such technologies.

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