The quantum computer was once something only imagined in sci-fi films, but with every passing day the dawn of this new kind of computer is edging closer. Quantum computing gives processing power far greater than anything seen today, resulting in the ability to bypass even the strongest conventional encryption technologies in hours.
Best estimates put mankind on course to unleash a commercially viable quantum computer by the year 2030. The world needs to act now to prevent a large scale fall out around the globe, where cyber criminals have the means to unlock any encrypted data they had nefariously gained over the years.
Traditional encryption, which is widely used by large corporations or governments, would take even the most creative cyber-criminals a century or more to crack using current computing power, but with a quantum computer this encryption would hold hackers at bay for hours at best.
Over the past decade there have been some high-profile thefts of encrypted data. Although well documented in the cyber security industry, these hacks rarely make the evening news because the data is all but useless to cyber-criminals, due to the high levels of encryption. However, all of this will change with the quantum computer. Criminals aren’t as short sighted as one would hope. Many of whom will hold on to encrypted files watching and waiting for the quantum age to begin.
Who will win the quantum computing race?
The race is on between all leading nations in the world to create the first viable quantum computer. From the EU to the US, Russia, and China, unlocking the key to quantum computing is seen by many as the most important thing to national security defence in decades.
In the race to be quantum ready, leading private enterprises such as IBM have also thrown their hat in the ring, by announcing they are aiming to greatly increase their quantum processing power by 2025.
The ramifications for the first to achieve a stable and viable quantum computer are huge. The party that wins the race will hold a competitive advantage over all others. The world needs to prepare now for the eventuality that not all invested parties have humanities best interests at heart.
A hybrid approach to post-quantum technology
There are those today that see the future and are making plans to fight against any future quantum threats. Earlier this year France’s Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information (ANSSI), posted a paper which outlined how one should transition to post-quantum cryptography (PQC).
PQC algorithms are thought to put up more resistance against quantum computing. It is believed that because they are build using different mathematical principles, their defences could last for years instead of just hours, which is a vast improvement. ANSSI recommend that organisations and governments move to a hybrid model of encryption, utilising today’s conventional encryption standard combined with quantum resistant encryption.
Around about the same time in January 2022 the US government began their quest to identify any government data that was currently encrypted using standards that do not adhere to the NSA approved quantum resistant protocols. The US president has given all government departments 180 days to identify vulnerable areas and come up with a plan to transition to compliance.
Raising the bar on encryption standards
Unfortunately, around the globe there are those countries that are yet to adopt any formal governance and adherence to standardising encryption in readiness for the quantum computer. Australia is one such country. So far, the Australian government has shown no willingness or urgency to adopt a more stringent policy to become quantum ready. In-fact there are currently no cybersecurity standards that companies must adhere to in Australia when it comes to storing sensitive data.
Senetas are one of a small number of companies in Australia who can see the future and have been preparing for the evolution of quantum computing. Senetas can provide quantum encryption algorithms, as well as Hybrid encryption. We believe this will become the gold standard for encryption for governments and organisations globally.
The EU have led the way on security and data protection with their ground-breaking GDPR ruling. GDPR rules stipulate how companies must hold and secure users’ data. These such rules have helped shape not only the EU’s approach to securing data, but the world.
Australia and the rest of the world need to find a way towards becoming quantum secure, to avoid any nasty surprises when the first viable quantum computer is rolled out. If the quantum computer can crack conventional encryption in just hours, even a delay of a few months could have long lasting ramifications. Today’s sensitive data needs hybrid encryption to protect it from post-quantum threats.