Colin V McLaughlin, PhD (BA 2003, PhD 2010) is a Research Physicist at the United States Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., USA. He specializes in photonic communication devices and systems.
Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is an emerging cybersecurity technology which exploits the laws of quantum mechanics to generate shared secret keying material between two geographically separated parties. The unique nature of QKD shows promise for high-security applications such as those found in banking, government, and military environments. However, real-world QKD systems contain a variety of implementation non-idealities which can negatively impact system security and performance. This article provides an introduction to QKD for security professionals and describes recent developments in the field. Additionally, comments are offered on QKD’s advantages (i.e., the boon), its drawbacks (i.e., the bust), and its foreseeable viability as a cybersecurity technology.