The time to prepare for a safe quantum computing future is now
In today’s world, we do not go 30 seconds without touching digital technology of some kind, all of which is networked, none of which is quantum-safe. Awareness of the magnitude of the problem is finally reaching the highest levels, including the World Economic Forum where this week they ask Is your cybersecurity ready to take the quantum leap?
The article is a great introduction into the power of quantum computing, quantum algorithms, and the key problems that engineers and scientists are tackling in order to build larger scale quantum computers. Given just as much space though, is the flip side of quantum computers, namely their ability to break the cryptography which the digital infrastructure of our modern society relies on. Well worth a read.
Leading up to this, I enjoyed reading Yuval Noah Harari’s recent article Lessons from a year of Covid which looked back at the last year we have all been through with the pandemic. While there was a lot to be buoyed by including:
- For one of the first times in humanity’s existence we actually could move most of our work and life online and maintain most of our connections while in the midst of a pandemic. Not without its mental health challenges, it was still a far cry from yesteryear when house quarantine during something like the Black Plague meant you really hoped your physical library and family board games were well stocked because there would not be much else you would be doing for the next year.
- As well, we developed and are in the process of deploying a vaccine at a speed that has never been possible for humanity before.
But there was a single sobering thought that the article highlighted – the next pandemic might not be a physical one but rather a digital one; namely, an attack on our digital infrastructure. The internet held on this time. What I would have done without Netflix I shudder to think. But that is not a guarantee for the future as we are seeing more and more cyber attacks on our key critical infrastructure. Indeed, in just the last week hackers attacked a US petrol pipeline causing huge fuel shortages along the east coast of the US. By Tuesday, more than 7% of petrol stations in Virginia and 5% in North Carolina were out of fuel!
At KETS, we have made it our mission to protect humanity’s most valuable resource – information – from the threat of quantum computing. We have figured out how to miniaturise quantum-safe cryptographic hardware in a size, form-factor, and price-point that now makes it commercially viable and easily integrated in Telecommunications, Data Centre, and Defence & Space applications, to name just a few. We aim to produce our version of the digital quantum-safe communications vaccine.
But just like the real pandemic, we are not the only vaccine and the solution will come from a layered approach. Our friend’s at Fact Based Insight detailed a number of layered security approaches in their recent article Quantum safe cryptography – the big picture. The key to quantum-safe security in the future will come from using all the tools in our toolbox and making them easily swapped in and out. Crypto-agility is the name of the game. And it is key for industry, indeed all of us, to start experimenting with the technologies now. Our 21st century communications including the internet were not rolled out overnight. We cannot expect their quantum-safe upgrade to happen instantly either.
The time to prepare for a safe quantum computing future is now.