Last month, Thales announced its collaboration with Senetas in the launch of the world’s first quantum resistant network encryption (QRE) solution.

Capable of protecting customer data travelling across network infrastructure at speeds of up to 100Gbps, the QRE solution leverages the best of today’s classical standards-based encryption algorithms, plus tomorrow’s NIST shortlisted quantum resistant algorithms. The resulting hybrid encryption platform is capable of providing long-term data protection in a post quantum computing era.

Commenting on the announcement, Todd Moore, VP Encryption Solutions at Thales had this to say:

“It’s vital that businesses understand that all of today’s encryption standards are not fit for a quantum world. Hackers know quantum is coming and are actively working to steal data now so they can access it in the future, and large and multi-national organisations are most at risk due to compliance and privacy mandates. Businesses can’t afford to wait, the time is now to review their quantum security strategy.”

Quantum supremacy

Quantum computing represents a revolution in computational power, not just an evolution. Throughout their development lifecycle, “classical” computers have become progressively more powerful as chip (transistor) technology has improved. Moore’s Law famously predicted that number of transistors on a circuit would roughly double every two years, leading to a corresponding doubling in computing power. Although not an immutable law it was, for the most part, accurate.

With quantum computers, Moore’s Law no longer applies. Not because the pace of change has altered significantly, but because quantum computers fundamentally change the way we look at computing. Gone are the days of the bit, where its value could only be expressed as a one or a zero. Enter the Qubit which, thanks to a quantum physical principle known as superposition, can occupy a range of values between one and zero – exponentially increasing its computational potential.

A major landmark in the development of quantum computers was something known as quantum supremacy, or quantum advantage. It was the point at which a quantum computer could carry out a specific calculation that was deemed computationally difficult for a classical computer, in significantly less time.

That milestone was reached in 2019 by Google using a quantum computer with just 54 Qubits. Google’s quantum device carried out a series of functions in 200 seconds that is claimed a classical computer would take 10,000 years to complete. These claims were refuted by IBM, who declared their classical supercomputer could carry out the tasks in 2.5 days. Either way, quantum supremacy had been achieved.

Since then, huge investment by governments and private organizations across the world have seen significant advances in quantum computing. Not just in terms of quantum volume (power) but in the underlying methods of production. IBM itself announced its quantum development roadmap that would see a quantum system with over 1,000 Qubits available by 2023.

Act today to secure tomorrow

Much of today’s digital existence is dependent upon public key encryption technology to secure things as fundamental as the Internet and transactional data. The arrival of the quantum computer will render this cryptographic security useless.

Quantum resistant technologies are already available to help defend against the long-term implications of the quantum computer. Quantum Key Generation and Distribution is already in use to provide guaranteed forward secrecy of data in motion and NIST are close to finalizing their assessment of quantum resistant algorithms, with the initial standards due for publication in 2022.

The launch of the world’s first quantum resistant network encryption solution announced last month is a significant step towards securing critical data in a post quantum world.