Quantum-Safe Cryptography Now and in the Future

Many ordinary chores benefit from the use of cryptography. Cryptography protects your data and verifies your identity whether you send an email, make an online transaction, or withdraw cash from an ATM.

Modern cryptography techniques rely on the difficulty of solving particular arithmetic problems on classical computers or finding the proper secret key or message. Quantum computers work differently. Solving a problem that takes millions of years on a classical computer could take hours or minutes on a massive quantum computer, affecting encryption, hashing, and public-key techniques. Thus, quantum-safe cryptography is needed.

According to ETSI, quantum-safe cryptography identifies algorithms resistant to attacks by classical and quantum computers to keep information assets secure.

Why Do We Need Quantum Computing?

Quantum computers aren't only supercomputers. While classical processors employ 1s and 0s, or bits, quantum computers use qubits or quantum bits (CUE-bits). These Qubits execute multidimensional quantum algorithms on a quantum computer. Superposed qubits can build multidimensional computational spaces. In these spaces, complex problems represent in new ways. This process makes it possible to do more computations and opens up new ways to solve complicated problems that traditional computers cannot handle.

There are a lot of exciting benefits of quantum cryptography in health and science, like molecular simulation, which could help find new drugs that save lives faster. However, the problem is that quantum computers will also be able to solve math problems that strengthen many cryptographic algorithms.

The Impact of Quantum Computing on Cryptography

Two of the most common types of algorithms used to protect data today work in different ways:

Symmetric algorithms encrypt and decrypt data utilizing the same key used to encrypt the data.

Asymmetric algorithms, also known as public-key algorithms, use two keys mathematically coupled. These keys are a public key and a private key.

The use of asymmetric algorithms ushered in a new era of secure communication in the 1970s. Because they depend on finding a solution to the problem of discrete log and the factoring of huge integers, public key algorithms are susceptible to assaults that use quantum computing. Because of the vulnerability of today's algorithms to quantum attacks, we need new arithmetic capable of withstanding these assaults to deploy asymmetric or public-key encryption. As the mathematician Peter Shor proved, organizations can tackle issues of this nature in a relatively short amount of time with a powerful quantum computer.

How are Future Quantum Dangers Being Addressed?

The fact that researchers and standards authorities are beginning to take action to deal with the issue is excellent news. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has initiated a Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Program intending to locate new algorithms that can withstand the challenges presented by quantum computers. This program is currently in operation. After three rounds of examination, NIST selected seven finalists for further consideration. This year, they intend to select a few quantum-safe algorithms, and by 2024, they plan to establish new standards.

How Can Businesses Embrace Quantum-safe Cryptography?

We have a little of time, but not a lot, to secure solutions for quantum computers before they become widespread and conventional. Making the switch to new encryption is not only highly challenging but also time-consuming and resource-intensive. Experts say a large-scale quantum computer that can break public-key cryptography could be available by the decade.

Long-lived sensitive data is at risk because hackers can grab encrypted data today and decrypt it later using a quantum computer. Organizations in the United States and Germany have issued requirements for quantum-safe cryptography. The German federal agency BSI recommends using hybrid solutions for high-security applications, which combine both classical and quantum-safe algorithmic approaches. The White House has ordered all government agencies to develop quantum-safe modernization strategies.

Preparing for the Adoption of Quantum-safe Protocols

A few crucial milestones to help new clients prepare for the adoption of quantum-safe standards are as follows:

The first stage is to create a data inventory. Discover and classify your data, determine the worth of your data and determine which regulations apply.

After classifying your data, identify how it's encrypted and other cryptography applications to generate a crypto inventory to plan your migration. Symmetric and asymmetric algorithms, encryption protocols, crypto providers, key lengths, and so on will be in your crypto inventory.

Incorporate crypto agility: moving to quantum-safe protocols will take several years, during which standards will continue to evolve, and companies will work to implement quantum-safe technology. Employ an adaptable method and be ready to make adjustments as necessary. Utilize both traditional and quantum-safe cryptographic methods to implement the hybrid strategy suggested by professionals in the business. While doing so, the company maintains compliance with the most recent standards, and adds quantum-safe protection.

The shift from the encryption used today to a safe technique against quantum computing is an opportunity to rethink the way applications use cryptography. Only a tiny percentage of businesses are aware of the entire breadth of their implemented cryptographic solutions. For some people, upgrading their cryptography could take several years, like migrations from SHA-1 to SHA-2 or from Triple Data Encryption Standard (TDES) to Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). For cybersecurity, cryptographic agility is an essential component, and experts advise that businesses make use of it as part of their journey toward developing quantum-safe practices.

Trusted hardware platforms are essential for quantum-safe cryptography. It is essential to have cryptographic standards to permit the widespread and interoperable deployment of security measures.

To determine how new quantum-safe standards will affect their respective businesses; many customers from a wide variety of sectors have already begun conducting experiments with various quantum-safe algorithm variants:

Automotive: Customers in the automotive industry utilize public key technology in connected automobiles to verify the integrity of the firmware loaded into vehicles and for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connections. They are under a lot of pressure to implement quantum-safe technologies as quickly as possible since the automobiles they are creating will be on the road for a significant portion of the future. Automotive clients need to begin modeling and testing new quantum-safe algorithms as soon as possible to ensure that they can accept the larger key sizes in their use cases because automobiles have hardware resource limits.

Banking clients rely on symmetric cryptography to protect vital banking data. These clients must follow several data retention and confidentiality rules and agreements, such as maintaining tax records for 7–10 years and trade secrets confidential for 50 years. Adversaries are launching attacks now to release personal data in the future. Therefore, many banking clients construct data and crypto inventories to implement quantum-safe protection for sensitive data. Digital signatures used for authentication and software verification rely on public-key cryptography. Banking clients must model new quantum-safe algorithms to understand performance consequences and plan to adopt new standards.

Explore Further

Quantum computers will solve traditional technology's nearly insurmountable difficulties. In 10 to 15 years, quantum computers may be powerful enough to compromise your data's cryptography, and the coming quantum computer may decipher data encrypted with today's technologies.

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