When it comes to corporate and government network data security, there is a quantum-sized elephant in the room. The question everyone is asking is “how long until our data security infrastructure becomes vulnerable?”

The high-speed, global networks that modern organisations have come to rely upon are not inherently secure; even fibre optic is not secure. The best, last line of defence against a successful data breach is to encrypt the data, using a robust solution; rendering it useless to unauthorised users.

As you would expect, the hacker vs cryptographer war has been waging for a long time. As new algorithms, key management systems and encryption devices are made available, there is an army of hackers waiting to “crack” them – from organised crime to bored teenagers in their bedrooms.

At the moment, the cryptographers have the upper hand. Robust, high-assurance encryption technologies make the decrypting of protected data impossible in the short-term. That’s not to say that, given enough time and computing power, a committed hacker couldn’t crack an encrypted file. However, using today’s technology, it would take decades, by which point the data would be redundant. So, by all measures, the encrypted data should be secure well beyond its useful life.

However, there is something on the horizon that is set to change the game completely. The quantum computer. Capable of performing calculations thousands of times faster than current systems, a quantum computer would reduce the time taken to crack current encryption solutions from months, to hours.

The quantum computer represents the single most significant threat to standards-based encryption as we know it. Private and public sector organisations are beginning to eye the arrival of quantum computers with the same degree of dread as they did the millennium (remember YTK?).

The countdown to Y2Q is well under way. What makes it more worrying is that it is a moving target. The recent revolution in quantum technologies has seen the timescales for a viable quantum computer come down rapidly. How long now to Y2Q? Twenty years? Ten years? Five?

 

Quantum-Cryptography, for long-term data protection

It’s not all bad news though. The first cryptographically relevant quantum computer is still estimated to be a decade away. In the meantime, there are already solutions available that exploit the fundamentals of quantum physics themselves to create “unbreakable” encryption. AKA “quantum-safe” cryptography.

Senetas technology partner ID Quantique (IDQ) is a pioneer in the fields of quantum random number generation and quantum cryptography. The first to commercialise a quantum cryptography platform, its solutions provide long-term data security in a post-quantum world. IDQ’s technology is available in all Senetas high-assurance hardware encryptors (excl. CN4000 series).

In recognition of the emerging quantum threat, government and industry experts across the globe are advising organisations of all types to invest in quantum-safe encryption solutions. (see ETSI on Quantum-Safe Cryptography,  Cloud Security Alliance’s Quantum-Safe Security Working Group and the NIST Internal Report on Post-Quantum Cryptography.)

One thing is clear; both private and public sector organisations cannot plan future encryption strategies based solely on today’s status quo. As we approach the dawn of the quantum era, network data security needs to stay one step ahead of the hackers.

 

About Senetas

Senetas is a leading developer and manufacturer of certified high-assurance encryption hardware; dedicated to protecting network transmitted data without compromising performance.

Senetas high-assurance Layer 2 Metro and Carrier Ethernet encryptors protect sensitive network data in transit. They have been trusted to protect network data for Cloud and data centre services, Big Data applications, financial transactions, CCTV networks, infrastructure and SCADA control systems in more than 35 countries.