Classical Optical Cryptography for High Speed Coherent Systems


This technology poses a new cryptographic system specifically designed for optical networks. It can be used by government and commercial entities to protect valuable and confidential information from being stolen.

Problem Addressed

Security of optical communication systems is important to government and commercial users. If an eavesdropper can receive and decrypt an encrypted message, they can access and steal confidential information. Stream cipher-based cryptographic systems encrypt and decrypt messages using keys; however, they are vulnerable to attack if a key is used more than once. An adversary with sufficient computing power can analyze encryption traffic to break the cipher. The Inventors have developed a cryptographic scheme proven to be much more secure for applications in optical networks, making it impossible for an illegitimate receiver to break the cipher without sifting through a practically impossible amount of traffic.


The scheme is based on band-spreading in a coherent transmission system and a receiver that operates at the quantum limit of coherent detection. A pseudo-random cipher-stream is used to band-spread an optical carrier with coded data. A legitimate receiver can use the agreed upon key to modulate its local oscillator to uncover the band-spread signal and as resultantly decipher the message. Meanwhile, an eavesdropper without a key will find the spread signal with too low signal-to-noise ratio to perform any useful determination of the message sequence.


The receiver must be operating at or near the quantum limit to prevent successful interception and demodulation by an eavesdropper. While a classical stream cipher system may not be secure due to the large amount of ciphered text available to the analysts, the proposed scheme forces an adversary, without the key, to detect a much larger bandwidth of noise with power at least as large as the irreducible quantum detection noise. The differential signal-to-noise ratios between the user and the eavesdropper yield a Shannon Secrecy Capacity which can be made as close to the capacity of the user channel. Moreover, the system purposefully introduces errors into the transmitted data sequence so the communication system is operating just shy of capacity of the semi-classical white Gaussian noise channel, resulting in a highly secure scheme.  


  • Encoding scheme approaches theoretical bounds of security based on Shannon Capacity Theorem
  • Addition of quantum noise further boosts system security