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​KT demonstrates quantum encrypted data transfer using 5G network

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 12, 2020, 12:05 Updated : May 12, 2020, 12:05

[Courtesy of KT]

SEOUL -- In a bid to strengthen competitiveness in the global 5G mobile communication security industry, KT, South Korea's largest telecom company, has carried out a successful field test for transferring quantum encrypted data using a commercial 5G network near Seoul.

Quantum cryptography has emerged as an essential security solution for safeguarding critical information in the 5G era. Data encoded in a quantum state is virtually unhackable without quantum keys which are basically random number tables used to decipher encrypted information.

KT demonstrated the application of a self-developed quantum key distributor (QKD) system, a secure communication technology that implements quantum cryptographic components allowing two parties to create and share random secret keys, and encryptor developed by a domestic technology company to a 5G network in Gyeonggi, a province around Seoul.

"For the last four years, KT has developed various quantum cryptography communication technology solutions as countermeasures against actual threats on quantum computers," KT's network technology unit head Seo Young-soo said in a statement.

Quantum encrypted data is basically a single-use asset that can only be accessed once. If someone tries to hijack the data that has been accessed, the hacker would only get information that is mangled beyond repair. However, the encryption and decryption process of the secret data may cause a data traffic bottleneck phenomenon on communication networks.

Through the field test, KT found that the commercial 5G mobile network showed no signs of additional latency or lack of speed when quantum encrypted data was shared. The QKD and encryptor used in the demonstration met international standards, KT said. KT's technology was approved by the International Telecommunications Union, a governing body for telecom technology standards, in October 2019 and May 2020.

KT also demonstrated "One Box," a quantum random number generating feature for virtual private network (VPN) service for corporates. VPN refers to a private network created from a public internet connection and offers privacy and anonymity, making it ideal for corporates to securely manage sensitive information online or establish an intranet.

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