Equinix is planning to use quantum key distribution (QKD) technology from SK Telecom to secure dedicated lines between its data centers.

The two companies have an agreement to develop QKD, a cryptographic communications technique which quantum entanglement to ensure private distribution of cryptographic keys. The plan is to offer QKD as a service (QaaS) commercially between Equinix data centers. First, the two will test it at an Equinix facility in Seoul, which is believed to be the first data center to use quantum cryptography.

So far, QKD has been mainly applied by telecom companies, and SK Telecom is emerging as a leader in attempts to deliver and commercialize QKD services.

Entangled Web

QKD involves using pair of photons which are entangled quantum mechanically, so whatever happens to one will immediately affect the other. The entangled pair provide evidence that only the intended recipient has accessed a message which includes a cryptographic key, which can then be used in conventional encrypted communications.

SK Telecom is a member of a quantum cryptography project backed by South Korea's government. Through its Geneva-based subsidiary ID Quantique (IDQ), SK Telecom has used QKD to exchange keys for a VPN, thus establishing a "quantum" virtual private network (VPN), which is to say, a regular VPN backed by quantum key exchange. This can then be used over regular shared public networks.

"It will be the first step toward creating synergy between Equinix, a global No. 1 data center operator, and SKT, a global leader in quantum cryptography and 5G wired and wireless communication," SKT's innovation suite head Ha Min-yong said in a statement.    

The two plan to make QaaS available in Equinix's data centers and over its interconnections, offering it to protect enterprise-only lines that connect corporate headquarters, offices, and data centers. SKT said the service would become a corporate subscription model in the future.

Equinix sees a possible new business line to address future risks: "As companies gradually adopt digital transformation, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and digital leaders need a powerful digital infrastructure to address today's threats and take the next step ahead," said Equinix Korea CEO Jang Hye-deok.

In January, the Korean government approved SKT's quantum cryptography transmission encryption modules, so they can in future be used by government organizations and public institutions to protect key information against evolving threats.

Subscribe to our daily newsletters