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Quantum Expert: ‘Hack Now, Decrypt Later’ is Here Today

By IQT News posted 15 Oct 2021

(FierceElectronics) Fierce Electronics recently interviewed Duncan Jones, head of quantum security for U.K.-based software and cybersecurity company Cambridge Quantum. Jones’ comments are summarized here.
Jones discussed the possibility that quantum-based attack already could be occurring now in the form of “hack now, decrypt later” attacks whose impacts are yet to be fully understood.
A “hack now, decrypt later” attack occurs when an attacker records encrypted data sent today, which is later decrypted on a quantum computer in the future. In this sense, quantum attacks have already begun.
Jones said the U.S. government has shown great awareness of the threats and opportunities presented by quantum computing, as evidenced by a swathe of announcements and activities in the last few years. The recent quantum forum at the White House is further evidence of this.
China and Russia are not so open about their intentions. However, we regularly see China demonstrating prowess in the field of quantum communications and cybersecurity, so it is clear they are approaching this as a strategic concern. The U.S. will need to continue to invest and explore the quantum space if they are to remain in a competitive position.
Jones stressed that “Governments need to acknowledge the risk of “hack-now, decrypt-later” attacks and stop giving blanket advice that companies should wait before transitioning to quantum-safe algorithms”. There are many ways to adopt quantum-safe algorithms today that will add value to existing systems. Similarly, governments should be highlighting how quantum technology can enhance existing solutions. .
Any company that transmits long-term sensitive data (such as health records) must seriously consider the threat of “hack now, decrypt later.” Companies running these systems should be exploring quantum-safe algorithms and key generation today.

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