Quantum-secure covert communication on bosonic channels

Boulat A. Bash, Andrei H. Gheorghe, Monika Patel, Jonathan L. Habif, Dennis Goeckel, Don Towsley, Saikat Guha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Computational encryption, information-theoretic secrecy and quantum cryptography offer progressively stronger security against unauthorized decoding of messages contained in communication transmissions. However, these approaches do not ensure stealth - that the mere presence of message-bearing transmissions be undetectable. We characterize the ultimate limit of how much data can be reliably and covertly communicated over the lossy thermal-noise bosonic channel (which models various practical communication channels). We show that whenever there is some channel noise that cannot in principle be controlled by an otherwise arbitrarily powerful adversary - for example, thermal noise from blackbody radiation - the number of reliably transmissible covert bits is at most proportional to the square root of the number of orthogonal modes (the time-bandwidth product) available in the transmission interval. We demonstrate this in a proof-of-principle experiment. Our result paves the way to realizing communications that are kept covert from an all-powerful quantum adversary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8626
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Oct 19 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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