Pandemic Opportunity for State-Sponsored Hackers Shows Strategic Importance of Quantum Computing
(CyberSecurityMagazine) John Prisco, CEO of Quantum Xchange, explains the current pandemic opportunity for state-sponsored hackers and also speaks to the use of quantum technology to “turn the tide” and achieve economic supremacy
Today, experts have raised alarm bells about increasing cyber attacks from China, possibly related to US-China tensions over COVID-19. Many of them follow a long pattern of high-stakes heists of U.S. intellectual property and national security secrets. China is relentlessly amassing an enormous data bank of sensitive information on all Americans, government officials and private citizens alike. Not only are there serious national security implications, as officials believe the stolen data could be used to target American intelligence officials, but the data has economic value, according to Attorney General William Barr. The fact that China has stockpiled so much critical information is alarming.
The looming arrival of quantum computers — which bring the potential to easily break the strongest encryption available today — is a gamechanger. Suddenly, the stockpiles of highly sensitive government and corporate data that have already been stolen by the Chinese become readable, clear as day. Almost three-quarters of cybersecurity professionals expect quantum computing to crack today’s encryption within the next five years, and the race is on to develop a capable device. That day is getting closer.
China’s investment matches its decision to highlight quantum computing as an area of strategic importance in the country’s 13th five-year plan. It has filed twice as many quantum-related patents as their U.S. counterparts while building a $10 billion quantum research lab scheduled to open next year. They are also ahead in their efforts to defend their secrets, and already built a 1,263-mile quantum-proof encryption network between Beijing and Shanghai,
We have ample opportunity to turn the tide. Congress should increase the funding allocated for quantum research under the Quantum Initiative Act. The Trump Administration just proposed a budget that includes $472 million for quantum computing research between the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, a major increase over last year but nowhere near competitive with China’s investment. We need these agencies, alongside NIST, to support QKD development and commercialization alongside PQC. I