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Work on quantum encryption network starts in Greater Helsinki

Encryption methods based on quantum mechanics enable even more secure transfer of data.


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is leading a project that is expected to pave the way for quantum encryption technologies by building a public test network in the capital region.

The network will serve as a platform for companies eager to test and develop products and services based on quantum encryption, a method that makes use of quantum mechanics to enable secure data transfer amid threats posed by hostile actors, be it an adversary nation or a criminal organisation.

“Quantum encryption is a new technology in which information is transmitted in the smallest possible parts – quantum – that cannot be copied. Their absence is also detected immediately, which would reveal a potential break-in attempt,” said Kari Seppänen, the principal scientist in charge of the project at VTT.

The technology relies on the exchange of encryption keys based on the transmission of individual photons between the sender and receiver. Because the key information is encoded in the photons, it is possible to detect eavesdropping and guarantee the integrity of the keys by observing key transfer errors.

While the keys are compatible with existing encryption algorithms, even higher levels of security can be achieved by combining quantum-based communication methods such as quantum key distribution (QKD) and post-quantum cryptography (PQC).

The test network is being built by VTT and CSC – IT Centre for Science.

Similar networks are being built across the EU as part of EuroQCI, an initiative aiming to protect critical infrastructure in the 27-country bloc. In the next phase of the initiative, the national networks are to be connected to one another with cross-border links following the examination and re-arrangement of fibre connections between the countries.

The Finnish project will also produce a separate test network for authorities, to be implemented by Cinia and Erillisverkot, a state-owned special-purpose company that is an integral part of the critical communications ecosystem in Finland. Both the public test network and the network for authorities are to be completed by mid-2024.

“Cinia finds it important to be involved in the development and provision of high-security information network services that the most critical actors in society will need in the future,” commented Pertti Hyvärinen, head of business development at Cinia.

By: Aleksi Teivainen