Research ArticleAPPLIED MATHEMATICS

Hacking the Bell test using classical light in energy-time entanglement–based quantum key distribution

Science Advances  18 Dec 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 11, e1500793
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500793

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Abstract

Photonic systems based on energy-time entanglement have been proposed to test local realism using the Bell inequality. A violation of this inequality normally also certifies security of device-independent quantum key distribution (QKD) so that an attacker cannot eavesdrop or control the system. We show how this security test can be circumvented in energy-time entangled systems when using standard avalanche photodetectors, allowing an attacker to compromise the system without leaving a trace. We reach Bell values up to 3.63 at 97.6% faked detector efficiency using tailored pulses of classical light, which exceeds even the quantum prediction. This is the first demonstration of a violation-faking source that gives both tunable violation and high faked detector efficiency. The implications are severe: the standard Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt inequality cannot be used to show device-independent security for energy-time entanglement setups based on Franson’s configuration. However, device-independent security can be reestablished, and we conclude by listing a number of improved tests and experimental setups that would protect against all current and future attacks of this type.

Keywords
  • Quantum Key Distribution
  • Energy-Time Entanglement
  • Quantum Hacking
  • Bell’s Theorem

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