Optimised quantum hacking of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors

Tanner, M. G., Makarov, V. and Hadfield, R. H. (2014) Optimised quantum hacking of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors. Optics Express, 22(6), pp. 6734-6748. (doi: 10.1364/OE.22.006734)

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We explore bright-light control of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) in the shunted configuration (a practical measure to avoid latching). In an experiment, we simulate an illumination pattern the SNSPD would receive in a typical quantum key distribution system under hacking attack. We show that it effectively blinds and controls the SNSPD. The transient blinding illumination lasts for a fraction of a microsecond and produces several deterministic fake clicks during this time. This attack does not lead to elevated timing jitter in the spoofed output pulse, and hence does not introduce significant errors. Five different SNSPD chip designs were tested. We consider possible countermeasures to this attack.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hadfield, Professor Robert
Authors: Tanner, M. G., Makarov, V., and Hadfield, R. H.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering
Journal Name:Optics Express
Publisher:Optical Society of America
ISSN (Online):1094-4087

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