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DHS aims for PQC implementation by 2030

By Dan O'Shea posted 27 Oct 2022

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is aiming to implement post-quantum cryptography (PQC) in its systems by 2030, about five years ahead of the National Security Agency’s timeline for having federal agencies with national security systems complete their PQC migrations.

That is according to Nick Reese, Deputy Director, Emerging Technology Policy in the DHS Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, who spoke on a panel at IQT Fall that was focused on government migration to quantum-safe security.

Reese acknowledged that “no one really knows–and DHS doesn’t know either” how soon quantum-safe encryption will be needed, “but we’ve put a marker down for 2030 to say we want to be implemented by then.”

2030 also happens to be the same time, roughly, when the Cloud Security Alliance’s Y2Q Countdown Clock will hit zero. Several other speakers at IQT Fall last week also mentioned similar timelines could be likely for implementation for government organizations, though in recent months there has been much uncertainty around how quickly these parties would move

Reese also acknowledged there could be challenges along the way. “There are definitely going to be challenges with the implementation of this,” he said. “If we look back at previous cryptographic transitions, going from SHA-1 to SHA-2, for example, took 15 years. The estimate was far, far less than that, but it still took 15 years. That’s one of the reasons why the DHS roadmap provides seven concrete steps that organizations can take to make the transition smoother, and to cut some years off of that transition time.”

Laura Thomas, chief of staff and strategic initiatives at ColdQuanta, spoke on the same panel and also talked about one of the biggest factors driving government agencies to adopt a new sense of urgency around quantum technology, and especially with moving to quantum-safe security as a defense. “The biggest thing to take note of and that U.S. government entities are really starting to take note off is that we have a real pacing partner now in China [when it comes to quantum innovation]. I speak with folks all across many governments, and what they want to know is what is China doing in this area? How far along are they?”

Reese’s comments come as Ann Cox, QIS (Quantum Information Science) Technical Lead, Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), at DHS, also spoke at  IQT Fall.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

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Edward Parker, a scientist at the RAND Corporation, speaks on the relations between China and the U.S. in quantum technology.