Nuke power operator introduces SK Telecom's communications system for quantum-safe data protection

By Lim Chang-won Posted : June 25, 2020, 12:06 Updated : June 25, 2020, 12:06

[Courtesy of SK Telecom]

SEOUL -- A secure communications system for quantum-safe data protection developed by SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, has been applied to Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), the state-run operator of nuclear power plants, to address concerns about hacking and security threats.

SK Telecom (SKT) said that its quantum key distributor (QKD) was applied to a communications network between KHNP's head office in Gyeongju, some 270 kilometers (167 miles) southeast of Seoul, and the KHNP office of pumped-storage hydroelectricity in Samryangjin, about 62 km away.

The commercial application of quantum cryptography communication for KHNP was the first of its kind in South Korea and was pushed to strengthen the security of power generation facilities. SKT offers specialized 5G services with ultra-low latency while addressing potential security threats with a quantum cryptographic communication solution.

Quantum cryptography has emerged as an essential security solution for safeguarding critical information in the 5G era. Data encoded in a quantum state is virtually unhackable without quantum keys which are basically random number tables used to decipher encrypted information.

SKT and KHNP will start building smart plants based on 5G quantum cryptographic communication this year. A smart power plant efficiently produces energy using 5G, quantum cryptography communication, artificial intelligence, and cloud, and combines online and offline based on strong security to enable efficient operation.

"The implementation of smart plants is the goal of digital transformation that KHNP wants to achieve, and wireless communication technology is responsible for the same functions as the nerves in digital transformation," KHNP's digital innovation promotion team Park Sang-hyung was quoted as saying.

The two companies have laid the foundation for smart plant construction by establishing a private 5G base to prevent the leakage of business data in power generation facilities, establishing a private IoT for the real-time transmission of data, and applying the real-time video monitoring of field conditions.

SKT said it would use advanced technologies for mobile infrastructure, QKD-based transmission technology, real-time data collection, automatic control, image analysis technology and a quantum random number cryptography generator for on-site mobile access.

In February 2019, SKT acquired ID Quantique (IDQ), a Geneva-based leader in quantum-safe cryptography and quantum sensing solutions. Through IDQ, SKT has secured a deal to provide its system to QuantumXchange, the American provider of quantum-safe encryption, which launched the first quantum fiber-optic network in the United States and QKD services.

SKT has demonstrated quantum security gateway servers to protect automobile electronic devices and networks from external digital attacks. Random numbers are foundational to information security. Modern cryptosystems consume quantities of random data to generate keys and perform cryptographic operations.

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