The Race to Quantum-Proof Vital Infrastruture
(Computing.co.uk) John Leonard provides an extensive review of efforts underway to quantum-proofing vital infrastructure at the dawn of the 2020s. The billions of pounds, renminbi, euros and dollars (US, Canadian and Australian) being pumped into the development of quantum computers by both governments and the private sector and with that research starting to bear fruit now.
As a result, the tried and trusted public-key cryptography algorithms that protect internet traffic will be rendered obsolete. A situation often compared with the Y2K problem, the impact could be disastrous with possible scenarios ranging from massive database hacks to unstoppable cyberattacks on the military, transport systems, power generation and health services, clearly, this is a risk not to be taken lightly.
Leonard provides a review of Post-quantum cryptography and key players. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched its competition for Public-Key Post-Quantum Cryptographic Algorithms, with the aim of arriving at quantum-safe standards across six categories by 2024. Of the original 69 algorithms submitted to NIST in 2016, 26 have made it through the vetting process as candidates for replacing the endangered protocols.
An important concept in quantum resistance is ‘crypto-agility’ – the facility to change and upgrade defences as the threat landscape evolves. Historically, industry has been the very opposite of crypto-agile: upgrading US bank ATMs from insecure DES to 3DES took an entire decade to complete.
Faced with the arrival of quantum computers and a multiplicity of use cases and environments, cryptographers favour a strength-in-depth or hybridised approach.
The other major area of research interest, quantum key distribution (QKD), is rooted in physics, specifically the behaviour of subatomic particles. QKD is concerned with key exchange, using quantum-mechanics to ensure that eavesdroppers cannot intercept the keys without being noticed.
In 2016, the European Commission unveiled its €1 billion, ten-year Quantum Flagship programme. The market is now starting to mature, he said, adding that his company boasts customers in government, finance and “other organisations that have high-value IP to protect”.
NOTE: The original article is lengthy and detailed, it’s worth the time to click through the source link and read from beginning to end.