Quantum computing is the future – quantum cryptography is how that future will be protected
The effects of quantum computing are about to change the landscape of online security in a huge way.
Enterprise security professionals responsible for protecting vast amounts of data critical data must have a deep understanding of how information is, and can be, secured online against the ever-approaching threat of quantum computing.
Organizations should prepare their online security infrastructure for the quantum era and the evolving threats that loom over online security as we know it today.
As we move closer to this new age of cybersecurity, the current standards for cryptography will start to become obsolete. It’s time to start planning for encryption against quantum computing.
Setting A New Encryption Standard For Protecting Valuable Data
Currently, billions of Internet users use Public Key Encryption, or PKE (the traditional form of cryptography), to safely access, share, and store their data. Be that as it may, quantum computing is developing fast, and along with the many incredible advances in technology, is a significant threat to traditional forms of encryption.
Thankfully, along with the developments in computing, are several very significant improvements in cryptography.
Enter Quantum Cryptography
Quantum cryptography presents the best defense against quantum computing threats by using properties of quantum mechanics, rather than the complex mathematical problems used by PKE, to provide an unparalleled level of online security.
Quantum encryption encrypts data in a way that prevents anyone outside of the intended recipient from reading it. It takes advantage of quantum’s multiple states, coupled with its “no change theory,” which means it cannot be unknowingly interrupted—making it easier to detect unauthorized access and more challenging to access without permission.
Organizations can use Quantum-based tools to detect the presence of attackers on a link when distributing the encryption key through a protocol known as quantum key distribution (QKD).
As with all things of value, this unrivaled level of online security comes at a cost.
Quantum encryption must follow specific requirements, including true randomness, absolute secrecy, one-time use, and a message matching key size, making it cumbersome and more expensive to implement. Thus, it appeals primarily to those interested in securing their highest-value links for extended periods and with the highest level of security.
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Like quantum computing, quantum cryptography is still being developed and can be viewed as an emerging technology. At the time of writing, key distribution rates don’t match the speeds of conventional high-speed communication, and use cases are limited to short key rates or lower encryption security levels.
Over time, we expect the performance to improve, costs to come down, and the adoption rate to accelerate. Breakthroughs that could speed up this change include:
- Optics and electronics miniaturization.
- Development of space distribution networks.
- The progression of standards and certifications around the world to support enterprise adoption.
Another Worthy Candidate Against Future Cyber Threats
The second solution to online security against quantum computing threats is a software approach, Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC). While a QKD system requires expensive terminal equipment and integration with telecommunications and network equipment, PQC does not. Which, of course, has its benefits and drawbacks.
We’ll cover QKD vs. PQC in a future article. Still, it is worth mentioning this technology, as many believe that it will be a combination of these two encryption methods that solve our digital security problems in the future.
How Should Organizations Prepare?
Some problems can’t be ignored, at least not forever. It’s easy to overlook or disregard how fast the threat of quantum decryption is approaching. Despite the natural tendency to set aside future problems, companies (and other organizations) should plan ahead and consider how to cost-effectively and efficiently navigate the threat that quantum computers present to their online security.
The first step is to prioritize which data is most critical. Then the business can decide which of the quantum cryptography solutions to implement.
Businesses need to prepare for a quantum future. We recommend that companies with high risk profiles dealing with critical data should start piloting the integration of quantum cryptography solutions as soon as possible.
The danger of a powerful new ability to compute and threaten the security of existing systems is drawing closer, and it is your responsibility to protect your data. It’s the dawn of a new era, the beginning of the quantum cryptography era.