Controlling an actively-quenched single photon detector with bright light
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionOptics Express. 2011, 19 23590-23600. 10.1364/OE.19.023590
We control using bright light an actively-quenched avalanche single-photon detector. Actively-quenched detectors are commonly used for quantum key distribution (QKD) in the visible and near-infrared range. This study shows that these detectors are controllable by the same attack used to hack passively-quenched and gated detectors. This demonstrates the generality of our attack and its possible applicability to eavsdropping the full secret key of all QKD systems using avalanche photodiodes (APDs). Moreover, the commercial detector model we tested (PerkinElmer SPCM-AQR) exhibits two new blinding mechanisms in addition to the previously observed thermal blinding of the APD, namely: malfunctioning of the bias voltage control circuit, and overload of the DC/DC converter biasing the APD. These two new technical loopholes found just in one detector model suggest that this problem must be solved in general, by incorporating generally imperfect detectors into the security proof for QKD.