Frequently Asked Questions


What is QEYnet?


QEYnet is a commercial enterprise whose mission is to build the world's first global Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network using satellites. Once in place, this network will enable a new era of ultra-secure global communication.


What is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)?


QKD uses the quantum nature of individual photons to create encryption keys that are completely impervious to eavesdropping.


Why is a Global QKD Network Needed?


The world has an immense looming cybersecurity problem. Modern society relies on encryption to keep its secrets, move its money and ensure its security. But the mathematical backbone of Public Key Encryption, the current gold standard in secrecy, will soon be in danger of being broken by quantum computers. In response to the threat posed by quantum computers, those who value security most highly are moving toward “quantum-safe” solutions using new mathematical techniques and Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). 


Is Blockchain Technology at Risk?


Blockchains rely on mathematical principles similar to Public Key Encryption and are susceptible to the same threat from quantum computers. All blockchain applications will eventually need to implement quantum-safe methods.


How Secure Is Quantum Key Distribution?


Quantum Key Distribution is the foundation for the most secure cryptography ever devised. In addition to being inherently impervious to undetected eavesdropping, QKD is cryptanalytically unbreakable. That is, encryption using QKD is impossible to crack, even with unbounded computing resources. While conventional cryptographic schemes rely on assumptions about a code breaker’s computational ability, QKD relies on the fundamental axioms of quantum theory—superposition and measurement. Since its development in the early 20th century, experimental testing and technological application has proven quantum mechanics to be staggeringly accurate and indisputably reliable.

With that said, like all cryptography, implementations are subject to errors. For QKD, implementation flaws arise from discrepancies between the cryptanalytically secure model and the real-world technology. QEYnet takes a proactive approach to identify, document, and mitigate against side-channels that could arise from a real-world device deviating from idealized theoretical models. In addition, since exploiting a QKD implementation flaw must be done in real time, a newly-discovered flaw cannot be used to expose previously generated keys or reveal previously encrypted data.


Is QKD Being Used Already?


Yes. Local QKD networks have been constructed and are being used in many locations around the world. 


Why is QKD Not Being Used More?


QKD networks built to date use fiber optical cable to transmit the photons. Unfortunately, beyond about 100km, the losses in the fiber optical cable become so high that QKD becomes impossible. To overcome this limitation, what are known as ‘Trusted Nodes’, are built along the way. This technique cannot easily cross water or harsh terrain, requires that the Trusted Nodes be secured indefinitely, and the cost of the network grows exponentially as its size increases. It is a brute force approach that cannot practically be scaled to meet global demand. QEYnet believes strongly that implementation of QKD has been limited not by demand, but by technology.


What is QEYnet’s Solution?


QEYnet intends to take the static Earth-based Trusted Nodes and make them dynamic by putting them onboard spacecraft in low Earth orbit. In space, orbiting the Earth almost 15 times a day, even a single satellite can provide global QKD connectivity. 


How are Keys Kept Secure in Space?


Beyond the security inherent in placing the Trusted Node hundreds of kilometers above the Earth’s surface, travelling at 7.5 km/s, each QEYnet spacecraft has two halves: the satellite bus, and the QKD payload. Customers interface directly with the QKD payload where keys are generated, stored and encrypted. Neither QEYnet, nor anybody else, has the means to decrypt the keys since only the customer, who generated them in the first place, has the information needed to do so.


Who Can Use QEYnet’s Satellites?


QEYnet offers two levels of service to its customers: Dedicated and Shared.

At the Shared service level, QEYnet customers will be granted access to one or more spacecraft that are shared with other QEYnet customers.

At the Dedicated service level, one or more QEYnet spacecraft are devoted to a single customer and the generation of quantum keys takes place entirely at the customer’s discretion. The customer may use the spacecraft to exchange keys exclusively within its own organization or may choose to grant access to and exchange keys with any other QEYnet customer.


How do QEYnet’s Quantum Keys Integrate with My Existing System?


To allow maximum flexibility, QEYnet provides raw quantum keys, allowing customers the option to use these keys as makes sense for their application. For customers seeking turn-key solutions, please contact QEYnet for further information and recommendations. 


How Long Does It Take to Generate Keys When I Need Them? 


Quantum keys are nominally stockpiled at customer locations. Because they are not based on assumptions about mathematical complexity, they do not expire until they are used. So long as stockpiled keys are not used at a rate faster than they can be regenerated, having to wait for keys is never a concern. 


What About Post-Quantum Algorithms?


The Public Key Encryption methods used today rely on mathematical problems that are difficult for computers to solve. Post-quantum algorithms rely on a different set of mathematical problems that are thought to be difficult for quantum computers to solve. While many post-quantum algorithms show great promise, none have been mathematically proven secure. This shortcoming is unlikely to prevent their use—after all, public key cryptography has relied on unproven assumptions about security for decades. It seems very likely that post-quantum encryption will take a layered approach in which post-quantum algorithms are layered on top of existing classical encryption methods. In turn, those who value security most highly, will layer QKD on top of that. That is, both post-quantum algorithms and QKD will play a role in the post-quantum world.


Is My Data at Risk Today?


Yes and no. While basic quantum computers exist today, and the pace of their progress is accelerating, they have not yet reached the computational power necessary to break Public Key Encryption. Despite that, applications with long data lifetimes that use Public Key methods are susceptible to a low-cost and easy-to-implement attack known as “Store Now, Decrypt Later” whereby the encrypted data is copied and stored until a sufficiently powerful computer is available to decrypt it. Since Public Key methods are currently being used today to secure data with lifetimes of decades, it may already be too late to protect all such data from this attack. Limiting the scope of this attack necessitates a move toward quantum-safe techniques as soon as possible.


What is Needed to Use QEYnet’s Service?


To begin generating quantum keys using QEYnet’s service, a small optical ground station is required. For more information on turn-key ground station solutions, please contact QEYnet.


Does QEYnet Adhere to an Industry Standard for QKD?


ETSI and NIST are currently in the process of developing standards for QKD and post-quantum algorithms. QEYnet will ensure that our technology adheres to global standards as they are finalized


How Much Does QEYnet’s Service Cost?


At the Shared service level, customers are charged on a per-key basis for the quantum keys they generate. At the Dedicated service level, pricing is determined on a case-by-case basis subject to customer requirements. For additional pricing information, please contact us.

What Are the Upfront Costs?


Accessing the QEYnet spacecraft network requires the installation of a marginal amount of equipment on the ground. At minimum, an optical system to transmit photons is required. For more information on turn-key ground station solutions, please contact QEYnet.

“Our credit cards, debit cards, work and building passes…all work on some form of encryption. The clock has started to tick.”