Jolly Phi    
Quantum hacking lab
    University of Waterloo  


  • October 2017. We’ve just returned from a security analysis trip to ITMO university in St. Petersburg (press in en | ru). Our lab has previously done informal implementation security audit for commercial quantum cryptosystems from ID Quantique, QuantumCTek, and a prototype at the University of Calgary. Now the Russian subcarrier scheme is added to this list.
    Click for larger image. ©2017 Vadim Makarov
    Waterloo testing team on a mushroom picking trip near St. Petersburg.
    Click for larger image. ©2017 Vadim Makarov / ITMO
    Waterloo testing team and ITMO researchers with their commercial prototype.

  • September 2017. Watch Vadim’s long and slow public demonstration how to do classical crypto by pen and paper (>1 h), or jump straight to the point where he burns one-time-pad :).

  • August 2017. Congratulations to our PhD student Shihan Sajeed for winning the 3rd best poster prize at the Frontiers in Physics conference.

  • August 2017. Watch Vadim’s overview talk at SHA2017 about ongoing deployment of quantum cryptography networks, quantum satellites, and security certification (1 h).

  • April 2017. In a carefully worded announcement, the Government of Canada indicates that Thomas Jennewein’s quantum communication demonstrator satellite has been funded. This may make Canada the second country to develop such satellite (China’s one is already in orbit). Our group has contributed to Thomas’ project over the past 4 years, and will try to continue doing so.

  • February 2017. Having single-photon detectors in space is no easy matter: they suffer from radiation in the solar wind, and gradually break down. See our two preprints on mitigating radiation damage in avalanche photodiodes that should allow them to survive for several years in orbit.

  • January 2017. Congratulations to our PhD student Shihan Sajeed for winning an IQC achievement award, given “for his work on identifying security flaws and loopholes in practical quantum communication systems and protocols”.
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Our research

The main direction of research for the Quantum hacking lab is testing practical security of quantum communication systems, finding and demonstrating new loopholes, and helping to develop and test countermeasures. For example, quantum cryptography is absolutely secure in theory. However, practical implementations often deviate from the theory description, which leaves loopholes for eavesdropping. By openly publishing all our results, we ensure hardening of quantum communication technology against all possible attacks. This work will also contribute to certification standards for quantum communication equipment.

Here are some short news articles about us (picked from larger press archive):

We also do some single-photon detector development for long-distance quantum communications, e.g., via satellite.

Current collaborations

Whiteboard drawing by our students   
Our cat is always alive!   
   Click for larger image. ©2017 Vadim Makarov, Scott McManus / IQC
Our lab members and collaborators in 2017
Click for larger image. ©2015 Vadim Makarov
PhD student Anqi Huang tests security strength of a commercial quantum cryptography system
Click for larger image. ©2016 Vadim Makarov
Discussion with visitor Marcos Curty
Click for larger image. ©2014 Vadim Makarov
Guest researchers Kejin Wei and Feihu Xu work with our PhD student Shihan Sajeed
Click for larger image. ©2014 Vadim Makarov
Undergraduate student Jin Gyu Lim works on an experiment
Click for larger image. ©2016 Vadim Makarov
Master’s student Jin Gyu Lim shows his setup for testing single-photon detectors
Click for larger image. ©2014 Vadim Makarov
PhD student Anqi Huang with her team’s prize-winning carving at IQC Halloween party 2014
Live demo of ID Quantique’s commercial quantum cryptography equipment at Quantum-nano centre’s grand opening in Waterloo. Image ©2012 IQC / Peter Kovacs
Public demo of commercial quantum cryptography equipment
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