(GCN.com) The U.S. should develop and deploy both quantum-resistant algorithms (QRA) and QKD in tandem, given the serious risks we face with hastening advances in quantum computing. Quantum key distribution doesn’t depend on increasingly stronger algorithms. QKD uses photon-based keys that cannot be intercepted or manipulated to enable unbreakable encryption. It can be deployed today and is in use in Europe, China and other countries. Because QKD is based on quantum mechanics, it’s not vulnerable to quantum computers like traditional cryptography is.
There is a misconception that because quantum computers aren’t yet available, there’s no real threat to our data. That’s just not true. China has been harvesting and stockpiling troves of data it has stolen from U.S. agencies and businesses for years. The hoard includes highly sensitive data about more than 21 million government workers and contractors that was stolen in the Office of Personnel Management breach four years ago.
That data is a lost cause, but new and future data can be protected against quantum attacks with QKD. I’m not arguing for one post-quantum defense over the other; I’m saying there’s a purpose and place for both QKD and QRA.