Women of Quantum-Roberta Faux of Arqit
It’s no coincidence that many people who enter this industry come from a background in digital security. This was the case for Roberta Faux, the US Head of Cryptography and US Field Chief Technology Officer at Arqit, a leading quantum-safe encryption company. “My journey grew out of my early career as a cryptographer,” explained Faux. “At its heart, cryptography is primarily concerned with securing information and developing encryption methods. Understanding the vulnerabilities of cryptographic schemes to quantum attacks and the design of quantum-safe encryption methods is an essential aspect, and my knowledge of security principles has contributed to the development of quantum-safe secure systems.” Like many others in the quantum ecosystem, Faux hopes to use her encryption skills to ensure a more secure digital future.
As an Arqit cryptographer, Faux was quickly drawn to securing information from sophisticated attacks that quantum computing will bring. “Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize fields from computing, to communication, to sensing,” she added. “Simultaneously, large scale quantum computers will have the ability to break widely used global encryption standards leaving vast amounts of data vulnerable. Even now nation state actors and cyber adversaries are storing our data to decrypt later. This could ultimately lead to putting at risk national security lines everywhere.” Having filled various previous positions within cybersecurity and encryption, Faux felt that a natural next step for her career was to join a company that protects against the quantum threat. She was hired by Arqit in early 2023, adding cutting-edge talent to the company.
In her new position at Arqit, Faux has found fulfillment as an expert on staff. “My current position is US Head of Cryptography and Field CTO at Arqit, a global leader in quantum-safe encryption,” she stated. “It is exciting to work as a technical expert at a visionary company. As Arqit leads in the development of truly cutting-edge encryption technologies, including our Symmetric Key Agreement Platform QuantumCloud™, my role is charged with simultaneously aligning the Arqit solutions with zero-trust, crypto-agility, and quantum-safe security for the data. This plays a crucial role in keeping safe the sensitive data of our governments, enterprises, and citizens in an ever-evolving digital world characterized by persistent cyber threats.”
Faux and her Arqit team are always looking ahead to keep up with the ever-changing work of cybersecurity. As Faux elaborated: “Working at the forefront of emerging encryption technologies, means constantly researching and experimenting with new methodologies to stay ahead of potential threats. The diverse team at Arqit consists of amazingly talented cryptographers, mathematicians, and software engineers that work to develop robust cryptographic solutions. It is truly a privilege to work with the experts and innovators at Arqit who will no doubt play a vital role in building and protecting the future trust and integrity of information.” As governments around the world, standards bodies such as NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and private companies, are rapidly working to mitigate the risks posed to legacy encryption and ultimately our high value data, Faux and her team are applying quantum-safe encryption methods to protect the future security and integrity of information.
As a woman leader in the fields of quantum computing and cybersecurity, both of which tend to be heavily male-dominated, Faux often thinks about how to make these environments more inclusive for women and other minority groups, even within her own community at Arqit. “Improving diversity in the cybersecurity world is a vital step toward creating a more inclusive and effective industry with a broader perspective and creativity,” she explained. “Simultaneously, addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort from cybersecurity entities, academia, and industry leaders to actively promote diversity and inclusion. This must be implicit in hiring practices, providing mentorship, fostering inclusive cultures, and promoting diversity at all levels of the workforce.” While part of these hiring practices includes excluding language written in job postings, there are other, more serious problems. “Even in 2023, there are still implicit biases and stereotypes influencing hiring decisions, workplace dynamics, and opportunities for career advancement,” added Faux. “These biases contribute to the perpetuation of homogeneous teams.” Faux is relentless in her commitment to intentionally be a role model and mentor to underrepresented individuals in the cybersecurity industry. As she states, “our commitment to inclusive talent is a fundamental driver to a visionary company in delivering next-gen cybersecurity.”
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Ars Technica, and more.