Quantum-cryptography key distribution (QCKD) experiments have been recently reported using polarization-entangled photons. However, in any practical realization, quantum systems suffer from either unwanted or induced interactions with the environment and the quantum measurement system, showing up as quantum and, ultimately, statistical noise. In this paper, we investigate how ideal polarization entanglement in spontaneous parametric downconversion (SPDC) suffers quantum noise in its practical implementation as a secure quantum system, yielding errors in the transmitted bit sequence. Because all SPDC-based QCKD schemes rely on the measurement of coincidence to assert the bit transmission between the two parties, we bundle up the overall quantum and statistical noise in an exhaustive model to calculate the accidental coincidences. This model predicts the quantum-bit error rate and the sifted key and allows comparisons between different security criteria of the hitherto proposed QCKD protocols, resulting in an objective assessment of performances and advantages of different systems.