a research project funded by the BMBF


Hardware-based Quantum Security


The technological development of information and communications technologies brings about rapid economic progress. Digitization has spread extensively and data flows are increasing. Consequently, existing and new systems can become a target of fierce attacks and need to be protected by powerful cryptographic methods. The idea of a quantum computer might become reality in the near future. This scenario calls for changing existing and widely spread cryptography procedures.

Approach and goals

The project "Hardware-Based Quantum Security" (HQS) aims at creating a new, secure and marketable communication system. To that end, the consortium partners combine newly developed hardware, develop interfaces for various technologies and perform profound security analyses. Keeping up the high standards of the consortium partners helps integrating the communication system into future-proof encryption platforms and highly secure ICT infrastructures. Research around the world focuses on post-quantum methods that can resist quantum computer attacks. For software use, mathematicians are currently developing new models for encryption procedures. For hardware use, quantum key distribution (QKD), a method based on physical principles, is already able to protect communication properly against all quantum computer attacks. Using quantum effects provides an additional advantage for hardware-based random number generators and hardware-intrinsic security components.

To provide attack-proof hardware for post-quantum cryptography and communication, the consortium of the HQS project defined the following goals:

  • Developing robust and reliable optic modules for QKD transmitters and receivers of infrared and telecommunication wavelengths in fibre optic cables
  • Defining and implementing interfaces between QKD modules and secure encryption platforms for urban telecommunications networks and wide-area network links
  • Developing and testing electronics and optics to provide protection against side channel and error-provoking attacks
  • Demonstrating QKD in fiber-optic networks that are operated on a commercial basis
  • Developing hardware for quantum PUFs (physically unclonable functions) and QKD-based authentication schemes, and analyzing their vulnerabilities

Project organization

HQS is a joint research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and involves various expert partners from research and industrial fields. The BMBF is the project owner for this project in the scope of the call for tenders High-tech for IT Security. The LMU Munich is responsible for the project lead.

  • Project management: VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH
  • Consortium: LMU Munich, Technical University of Munich, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Rohde & Schwarz Cybersecurity GmbH, noris network AG, Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG
  • Project duration: 01/2017–12/2019

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