(Teiss.uk) David Williams CEO and Founder of Arqit is the author of this article and argues that organizations need to start thinking seriously about how they will mitigate quantum cyber attacks.
Any previous concept of an IT revolution pales in comparison to the potential of quantum computing. The rapidly evolving technology promises to deliver calculation speeds that are hundreds of millions of times faster than the best super computers using traditional methods – solving in seconds equations that would normally take thousands of years. This power has a limitless number of beneficial applications, from supercharging pharmaceutical research and development to pinpoint accurate weather forecasting.
As with all technological advances, in the wrong hands quantum computing also represents a serious threat. The incredible power of a quantum computer could crack even the most secure encryption like an egg, including methods like public key infrastructure (PKI) which are relied on for a wide variety of critical activities.
It never takes long for criminals to take advantage of new technology. The expense and resources required to create a quantum computer means they will be limited to high-level nation state actors at first, with finance, government and critical national infrastructure being the most at risk. But it is likely that the technology will then trickle down to other threat actors as it becomes more accessible.
A quantum-powered attack demands a quantum-powered defence. In the same way that we study a pathogen to create its antidote, transformational quantum encryption techniques can be used to create keys that are safe from quantum attack using a completely new class of crypto system.
The solution comes in two phases:
This revolutionary tech takes “root source” quantum keys that are stored in data centres and uses them as an ingredient in a novel process whereby two or more end point devices create symmetric encryption keys locally. This process is both zero trust and computationally secure. Today, the root source keys are created with quantum random number generators and sent to data centres globally using terrestrial digital methods. This is secure enough to allow the end point software to do its job in a very secure way.
The next two years will see the launch of quantum satellites using a new protocol which solves all of the known problems of Satellite QKD. Those satellites will then take over the task of distributing the root source keys into data centres, and at that point the entire network end to end becomes fully quantum safe.