Thursday, May 19, 2022

Facing the quantum hackers of tomorrow today

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Governments and private companies around the world are recognizing the potential of quantum computing — which could “create $450 billion to $850 billion in value over the next 15 to 30 years,” according to estimates from a 2021 report from Boston Consulting Group — and are working to develop their own quantum strategies and research initiatives.

Brace yourself for the power of quantum

However, as quantum technology advances, there is a dark cloud on the horizon. Hackers may one day use this processing power to crack public key cryptography systems, which are the basis for today’s secure interactions over the Internet, as well as other systems such as public key infrastructure, code signing systems, secure email and keys. . management systems. Experts warn that this is a major threat to modern digital security that must be addressed now. “It will completely break these crypto systems,” said Dustin Moody, a mathematician at the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

While a full-scale quantum computer is not yet a reality, the danger is immense. Duncan Jones, chief of cybersecurity at Quantinuum, a Cambridge and Colorado-based quantum computing company, says he is concerned about a particular issue. “If I send you some encrypted data today and someone records it, they can break in there later,” Duncan says. “They don’t need a quantum computer these days to break into it. They can just sit patiently on that data and they can then decrypt in the future.”

To defend against such quantum attacks, post-quantum cryptography is emerging as an efficient and effective solution. It refers to a set of new cryptographic algorithms, especially public key algorithms, that can be implemented using today’s classic computers.

There is a growing urgency for enterprises of all sizes and across industries, as well as public institutions and other organizations, to make their systems crypto-flexible and incorporate such quantum-resistant algorithms into their security frameworks. Companies and organizations cannot afford to wait and see how the quantum computing landscape evolves. “The cost will increase if it is adopted after quantum computers are established,” said Jung Hee Cheon, a professor of mathematics at Seoul National University in South Korea. Given the high stakes, a proactive, rather than reactive, attitude to such threats becomes crucial.

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This content is produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editors of MIT Technology Review.

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