(TechTarget) It is time for companies to understand the changes — both good and bad — that quantum computing brings to cybersecurity.
One aspect causing a lot of confusion is that quantum will not replace current silicon computing. Quantum doesn’t do traditional tasks any better. Rather, it promises transformation around optimization and solving certain algorithms faster. But when will we get there?
Quantum computing is at least five years away from having an impact on technology. And analysts expect it will be an additional five years until it disrupts cybersecurity.
The full extent of how quantum computing affects cybersecurity isn’t yet known. There are, however, two areas in which quantum computing can threaten cybersecurity that experts are discussing today.
The biggest worry is that quantum computing can break current RSA cryptography. Quantum computing’s efficiency may enable it to solve certain algorithms — including RSA — faster.
Two such quantum algorithms that could crack RSA are Shor’s algorithm and Grover’s algorithm. These quantum algorithms won’t immediately break RSA, but will begin to break it down over time. Stored data using current encryption would be most at risk because it would be secured by older encryption that quantum could eventually break.
Quantum computing isn’t all doom and gloom for cybersecurity. Some industry experts are optimistic about quantum computing and have identified two areas where cybersecurity could get a boost: privacy and stronger encryption methods.
In terms of privacy, privacy-enhancing computing (PEC) techniques keep data encrypted while in use and provide in-transit and at-rest protections.
Data privacy is a hot-button topic. PEC could help solve privacy issues in use cases such as medical record protection and internal analysis.
Related to PEC is the second benefit of strong encryption methods, namely homomorphic encryption, which Horvath called the most interesting aspect. Homomorphic encryption enables third parties to process encrypted data and provide results without ever having knowledge of either.
Homomorphic encryption can use lattices, or multidimensional algebraic constructs, which quantum computing can’t solve easily. Experts believe lattice-based cryptography could be the best replacement option for current algorithms.
While the technology isn’t quite there for true quantum computing, it’s fast approaching. Companies don’t need to immediately leap to action, but now is the perfect time to learn how quantum will affect businesses.
To get started, take inventory of cryptography currently in use.
Another step is to start thinking about the shelf life of data to figure out exposure time, Maxim said. “How long do you plan to store this data? Is it driven by regulations or in healthcare where you can’t delete it?”
After answering these questions, consider when quantum computing will be available and able to break the encryption used.
From there, determine tolerable exposure times for the data and consider how long it would take to migrate to a newer, safer encryption standard.