Quantum is becoming more of a buzz word lately as more tech giants and media channels report on the great advances made in the technology. From Google’s 200-second calculations (versus what would have been +10,000 years on current super-computers) to China’s Micius satellites capable of quantum-secure video calls in 2018, news on quantum technology are shared almost daily in the mainstream media. 

However, not everything is about quantum computing and big tech companies. The extended computing capacity that quantum technologies bring is accompanied by a threat to our cybersecurity and networks. Fortunately, solutions are available, and companies should integrate these quantum technology solutions in the next few years before it is too late. Considering that the average mid to big tech-change project will take a minimum of 12 months to get implemented (up to 5+ years depending on the scale )[1], your company should start thinking how to make your networks and products quantum-ready.

Quantum technology impacting us today

While most of the media focus remains on Quantum Computation, this effort feels too distant and something that only big companies and labs will be able to use and get full commercial value from in 10+ years. However, three other main quantum-tech areas are perhaps less often talked about but with a much closer timeline and impact on today’s businesses and consumers: Quantum Simulation, Quantum Sensing & Metrology, and Quantum Communication. [2]

Quantum Simulation refers to quantum computers with, in most cases, one specific application or purpose - so to speak, a special-purpose quantum computer; this has helped businesses bridge the gap between academia and research environments to business-specific solutions. Similarly, the Quantum Sensing & Metrology area has seen its first commercial applications in the range of accelerometers (GNSS systems) and atomic clocks (high-frequency trading, space)[3].

But again, most of these solutions are only useful to high-performance scenarios such as the finance or investment industry, or highly specialized defense applications.

The opportunities in Quantum Communication

Quantum Communication holds the most significant number of short-term applications within the quantum-tech quadfecta, and with it, the quantum ecosystem will flourish and enable applications unforeseen until now. Two branches will play a vital role in the next 1 to 5+ years, and because of that, your business should start thinking about this TODAY: post-quantum cryptography and quantum cryptography.

(5+ years) Post-quantum cryptography is the branch of cryptography that deals with the development of modern, algorithmic encryption technology that resists attacks of (future) quantum computers. This will form the new industry standards, in the same way that RSA and ECDSA shape the public key protocols used today.*[4]

(1+ years) Quantum cryptography, also called Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), is the simplest form of quantum communication and consists of using the quantum properties of elements sent via glass fibers or satellites to protect information. In QKD, a separate information channel, based on the quantum properties of light, is used to send a (traditional) encryption key. As soon as someone tries to eavesdrop the channel, it becomes immediately apparent to the involved parties. QKD is useful for securing critical data, as well as remaining safe in the future where quantum computing renders current encryption methods obsolete (e.g., RSA).

So why integrate quantum technology now if standards are yet to come?!

In a world where data privacy and security are becoming more critical, information protected with weak cryptography poses an unbearable threat since it can be stored today and decrypted when the computing means are available. When the security shield or criticality of the information spans long periods (horizons of 10-20 years are not unheard of in health, banking, corporate, government and defense), then it is evident that the time to migrate to quantum cryptography is now.

It is essential to understand that migration won’t happen overnight, nor a full-scale system replacement is required. Furthermore, you can integrate quantum technology now as it is available today, and can easily be merged with existing crypto solutions to provide enhanced security levels without compromising regulatory compliance on current standards.

All in all, the need now is for quantum-safe connectivity - that is - today’s quantum-safe solutions for tomorrow’s quantum problems.

Oh, and if I wasn’t clear before, tomorrow’s quantum problems, are ALSO today’s problems since most our data needs to be stored for long periods and data breaches carry even stiffer penalties (e.g., GDPR, leaks)

If you want to know more about how to get started on a quantum-safe security journey and how to integrate quantum technology in your products, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Quside and join us at the quantum side!

Notes:

Post-quantum crypto is an evolution of current crypto, in the sense that (i) we do not know if the new algorithms will resist future attacks and (ii) new algorithms do not have a decade of resilience to generations of cryptography trying to break them.

References:

[1] Alexander, Chuck. (2018). Parametric Cost and Schedule Modeling for Early Technology Development-Alexander-JHU-APL-NSAD. 10.13140/RG.2.2.19970.79040.

[2] TNO (2019). National Agenda on Quantum Technology. Quantum Delta Nederland http://publications.tno.nl/publication/34634709/HjelXT/TNO-2019-R11338.pdf

[3] http://talkquantum.npl.co.uk/blog/how-atomic-clocks-are-finding-new-life-in-the-emerging-quantum-industries/

[4] Some experts argue it will be up to two decades to get it broadly in place: https://www.technologyreview.com/2018/12/03/138821/quantum-computers-encryption-threat/