(C4isr.net) The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency has begun monitoring encryption capabilities that could protect defense communications from powerful quantum computers, a top technology official said Thursday.
At DISA’s annual forecast to industry, Stephen Wallace, systems innovation scientist at the agency’s emerging technology directorate, said that quantum-resistant encryption is a new technological area of focus for the agency in fiscal 2021. Quantum-resistant technology is only in the “monitor” stage, Wallace said, and DISA officials are working to get a better understanding of what the technology will mean in the future.
“We are not looking to stand up quantum computers, but we are looking to understand how quantum computers will impact our ability to defend our networks going forward,” Wallace told reporters on a conference call after the event.
He noted that DISA, the DoD’s combat IT support agency, has no active projects on quantum-resistant technology, but told reporters that the agency would like to move “fairly quickly.” Wallace said he believed that quantum computing will become a real threat in the next few years.
“Frankly, our adversaries likely won’t advertise the fact that they’ve achieved a quantum computer,” Wallace told reporters. “We have to have crypto algorithms in place prior to that to allow us to continue in a safe position.”