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JST and NEC Realize Secure Quantum Key Distribution with Quantitative Assurance under Actual Operating Environment

*****For immediate use March 6, 2007

Tokyo, March 6, 2007 --- Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and NEC Corporation (NEC) today announced joint development of the world's first quantum key distribution (QKD) system that guarantees security under actual operating environments. A new formula to estimate information subject to eavesdropping on transmitted keys has been developed and enables measurement of the maximum amount of information that could be leaked on the final cryptographic key distilled from the transmitted key.

Quantum cryptography systems such as the QKD system have been attracting increasing attention worldwide as they guarantee unconditional security against future advances in eavesdropping technology. However, security of the current QKD protocol is dependent on ideal conditions, including the use of a genuine single photon source and/or unlimited computational resources. Therefore, there has been increasing desire to develop a QKD protocol that could guarantee security even without these ideal conditions.

The JST/NEC team has succeeded in constructing a theory to estimate how much information could be leaked on a transmitted key under practical conditions. Based on this, the team developed a QKD system equipped with software for secure key distillation, which erases information subject to eavesdropping from the transmitted key, thereby making the final key immune to eavesdropping. The new QKD system generates the final key at a rate of 2000 bits/second with an optical fiber transmission of 20km. When the maximum amount of information that could be leaked to an eavesdropper on the final key is 1/128 (whereby an eavesdropper could only guess the code of a 128 bit with a probability of less than 10 to the power of minus 33), it would be practically impossible to decipher the code if a message is encrypted with the final key obtained.

This is the first time that a secure key has been successfully generated with quantitative assurance of the maximum amount of information that could be leaked to any potential eavesdropper. This research result is expected to contribute to the realization of a highly secure metropolitan optical communication network that guarantees unconditional security as it proves practical acquisition of a secure key. This research has been carried out under the JST ERATO-SORST's "Quantum Computation and Information" project (headed by Prof. Hiroshi Imai, University of Tokyo) in cooperation with NEC. The JST team developed the software for implementation in the QKD hardware, which was developed by NEC based on research carried out under the National Institute of Communication Technology's (NICT) project "Research and Development of Quantum Cryptography."

About JST
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) is an independent administrative institution under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, MEXT. JST's mission is to promote science and technology in Japan by conducting a broad range of activities such as (1) Promotion of consistent research and development from basic research to commercialization with particular emphasis on the creation of new technological seeds and (2) Upgrading the infrastructure for the promotion of science and technology, including dissemination of scientific and technological information.
For additional information, please visit the JST home page at: http://www.jst.go.jp/EN/

About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation (NASDAQ: NIPNY) is one of the world's leading providers of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions dedicated to meeting the specialized needs of its diverse and global base of customers. NEC delivers tailored solutions in the key fields of computer, networking and electron devices, by integrating its technical strengths in IT and Networks, and by providing advanced semiconductor solutions through NEC Electronics Corporation. The NEC Group employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. For additional information, please visit the NEC home page at: http://www.nec.com
* Newsroom: http://www.nec.co.jp/press/en/

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Press Contacts

Diane Foley
NEC Corporation
d-foley@ax.jp.nec.com
+81-3-3798-6511
Mikiko Fukushima
Japan Science and Technology Agency
fukushim@jst.go.jp
+81-3-5214-8404


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