Industry Specification Group (ISG) on Quantum Key Distribution for Users (QKD) Activity Report 2020

Chair: Martin Ward, Toshiba Europe

Established to develop specifications describing quantum cryptography for Information and Communications Technologies networks.

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) enables digital keys to be shared privately without relying on computational complexity. The security offered by QKD will not be vulnerable to future advances in algorithms, computational power or the emergence of a quantum computer.

With QKD, security keys are shared over optical fibre or free space links encoded on single photons or weak pulses of light. Demonstrator networks are now being constructed in several locations around the world and standards are needed urgently to enable adoption of these new security technologies.

ETSI’s Industry Specification Group (ISG) on QKD is leading activities to help fulfil this need, by developing specifications for the quantum communications industry that will promote and shape the market.

In 2020 we revised our QKD Application Interface [GS QKD 004] in response to recent networking developments, with modifications including the introduction of additional parameters to adapt to new network architectures.

Work neared completion on a new Group Specification [GS QKD 015 - published March 2021] that defines management interfaces to integrate QKD with disaggregated network control plane architectures, in particular with Software Defined Networks (SDN). The specification defines abstraction models and workflows between a SDN-enabled QKD node and the SDN controller. This includes resource discovery, capabilities dissemination and system configuration operations.

 Look out for in 2021 – ISG QKD work in progress:

  • Group Specification (GS) providing a Protection Profile under the Common Criteria for point-to-point QKD systems operating prepare and measure QKD protocols
  • GS defining orchestration interfaces between SDN Controller(s) and SDN Orchestrator(s) of multi-domain QKD networks to complement recently published GS QKD 015, which addressed interfaces between SDN Agents and SDN Controller(s)
  • GS on implementation security addressing protection against Trojan horse attacks against QKD systems
  • GS on characterisation of the optical output of QKD transmitter modules considering the measurement of complete QKD modules
  • Revision to GS QKD 005 on security proofs of QKD protocols, focusing on security definitions and device models as well as the relationship with implementation security
  • Group Report (GR) on the design of QKD interfaces with authentication considering protocols used, assumptions on long-term or physical security, research on information-theoretic secure and symmetric authentication, and resulting design principles
  • GR reviewing network architectures to reveal the basic functionalities implemented and their commonalities
  • Revision to GR QKD 007 on QKD vocabulary after detailed consideration of the usage and definition of many important terms in the context of QKD and other relevant security standards