Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

Eavesdropper Steals Quantum Crypto Keys

So-called "perfect eavesdropper" steals keys while they're being negotiated, without alerting users.

Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, LocalPain
Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
(click image for larger view and for full slideshow)
Quantum cryptography may look great on paper, but how secure is it in practice?

In fact, a team of computer scientists from Norway and Singapore identified a vulnerability that would allow attackers to eavesdrop on quantum key distribution, which is used to create a secret, secure key between two parties. They demonstrated this exploit first against a research quantum cryptography system, built at the National University of Singapore, then published research detailing how the vulnerability existed--at least in principle--in commercial quantum cryptography key generation systems built by ID Quantique and MagiQ Technologies. Now, the team has made the jump to demonstrating it against a fully deployed research system.

The team has detailed their latest findings in a paper, "Full-field implementation of a perfect eavesdropper on a quantum cryptography system," published last week in Nature Communications. Vadim Makarov, a member of the research team who's a postdoctoral researcher at the University Graduate Center in Kjeller, Norway, has also provided a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the research. The researchers said that they shared details of the vulnerability with commercial quantum cryptography vendors, who have patched any related vulnerability in their systems.

Quantum cryptography is attractive because it can be used to create key generation systems that detect whenever a third party is listening in, for example by intercepting packets. That's thanks to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which says that any attempt to measure quantum data will disturb it. As a result, two parties can be sure that no one has eavesdropped on their encryption keys, and that all data they subsequently transmit remains secure.

But systems that implement quantum cryptography for key generation--layered with classical key-generation systems for better security--are relatively new. Accordingly, security researchers are still hammering away at them to see what might break. In the case of the eavesdropping, the researchers discovered they could use a laser to force the photon detectors in the quantum system to behave in a traditional manner, robbing the system of its ability to detect an intrusion.

"This is the usual game in cryptography--a secure communications system is created and others try to break into it. In the end this makes the different approaches better," said Ilja Gerhardt, a member of the research team who's a visiting scholar at the University of British Columbia in Canada, in a statement.

What's interesting with quantum cryptography is that the flaws arise from implementations, rather than the cryptography itself. "What is really exciting about quantum cryptography is that for the first time in the long history of cryptography, we have a technique in which security is based not on unproven mathematical assumptions, but on the laws of physics," said Makarov. "However, as with any secure technique--classical and quantum alike--we also need to implement its founding principles properly into actual working devices."

Gregoire Ribordy, CEO of ID Quantique, said in a phone interview that his company works with Makarov's research group. "In security, the idea of quantum cryptography is that you can base security on quantum physics, but you also need to make sure that the implementation is correct. For us, that's why we think it's important that we have some collaboration with researchers."

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SOC 2s & Third-Party Assessments: How to Prevent Them from Being Used in a Data Breach Lawsuit
Beth Burgin Waller, Chair, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice , Woods Rogers PLC,  12/5/2019
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "This is the last time we hire Game of Thrones Security"
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0242
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
mod_wsgi module before 3.4 for Apache, when used in embedded mode, might allow remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via the Content-Type header which is generated from memory that may have been freed and then overwritten by a separate thread.
CVE-2015-3424
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
SQL injection vulnerability in Accentis Content Resource Management System before the October 2015 patch allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the SIDX parameter.
CVE-2015-3425
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Accentis Content Resource Management System before October 2015 patch allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the ctl00$cph_content$_uig_formState parameter.
CVE-2015-7892
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
Stack-based buffer overflow in the m2m1shot_compat_ioctl32 function in the Samsung m2m1shot driver framework, as used in Samsung S6 Edge, allows local users to have unspecified impact via a large data.buf_out.num_planes value in an ioctl call.
CVE-2015-0841
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
Off-by-one error in the readBuf function in listener.cpp in libcapsinetwork and monopd before 0.9.8, allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a long line.