(AT&T.Cybersecurity) Just as cybersecurity professionals are getting used to the possible implications of quantum computers, a new front opens in the quantum arms race: using quantum computers for encryption. Some researchers are already working on ways to protect systems against the exponential increase in computing power they represent. If cybersecurity is at a tipping point, they argue, and photonic computers are already being deployed to break PGP encryption, it is now time to arm ourselves with systems that match those being deployed against us.
At the moment, no decryption attacks have been seen in the wild, and the perceived reality is that it may take decades before quantum computers have the necessary computing power to be used in this way. Nevertheless, given the reliance of many modern systems on such algorithms, researchers are already looking at ways to protect against this kind of attack.
Some of the proposed solutions are essentially extensions of existing cryptographic schemes. NIST, for instance, is already recommending that organizations use 2048-bit RSA encryption as a minimum, Other analysts argue that extant protocols like TLS can be improved to combat the threat of quantum decryption algorithms. Others are exploring the concept of lattice cryptography, which appears to be uncrackable even by quantum computers.
The most exciting area of present research, however, relies on using the power of quantum computers to encrypt data, and therefore protect it against even quantum-enabled attacks.
Some of the proposed solutions are essentially extensions of existing cryptographic schemes. NIST, for instance, is already recommending that organizations use 2048-bit RSA encryption as a minimum, and that this standard be used for everything from encrypted cloud storage to encrypted email services. Similarly, some analysts argue that extant protocols like TLS can be improved to combat the threat of quantum decryption algorithms. Others are exploring the concept of lattice cryptography, which appears to be uncrackable even by quantum computers.
The most exciting area of present research, however, relies on using the power of quantum computers to encrypt data, and therefore protect it against even quantum-enabled attacks.
At the moment, the applications of QKD remain fairly niche. However, it’s likely that this form of cryptography will rise rapidly in popularity over the next decade. This means, first and foremost, that organizations holding valuable data will have to invest significant sums in QKD equipment. At the moment, an organization wanting to make use of QKD would have to buy a transmitter and receiver, each of which costs approximately $100,000. However, this cost is likely to drop significantly in the next few years.

0