Imagine a future where today’s trusted methods of encrypting online data and communications (SSL, SSH, HTTPS, etc.) are all invalid. Secure online banking, retail and communications are a thing of the past. The impact of this on the lives of those of us accustomed to socializing, communicating and conducting business online will clearly be devastating.
How could this happen? Well, we’re entering the quantum age – and many are aware that as quantum computers become more powerful, the many tools that are used on a daily basis to keep our data and communications secure. I believe it will make it easier to “brute force” the encryption algorithm privately.
Well, we haven’t reached the point where anyone reading this is likely to browse the internet on a quantum computer yet.But companies like IBM, Amazon and Google already offer variations of quantum computing. As a Servicewhich provides access to quantum resources via the cloud.
So how likely is it that this doomsday scenario will materialize? How seriously are governments and regulators taking this threat? What steps can we take to address this? What does the quantum computing revolution mean for the future of cybersecurity and, most importantly, the possibilities facing our business and wider society? Let’s see what we can do to minimize some threats.
What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computers harness the power of quantum mechanics to perform computations thousands of times faster than before. classic computer. These features include quantum superposition, which allows particles to exist in multiple states simultaneously, and entanglement, which allows linked particles to influence the states of other particles no matter how far apart they are. Masu.
Most organizations do not yet have a use case for quantum computing because quantum computers are not useful for every task. However, they are very useful for speeding up certain math-intensive processes such as drug discovery, modeling very complex systems such as climate patterns or financial markets, and encrypting (or decrypting) data. Masu.
One related principle is qubits, or qubits. In classical computing, data is divided into bits with values of 1 or 0. Because bits are essentially switches that are either on or off. However, qubits can exist in both states at the same time thanks to superposition. This will allow quantum computers to perform certain kinds of computations, such as optimization and factorization, at blazingly fast speeds.
It’s interesting because it sounds so impossible, but unless you’re a computer scientist working with quantum computers, you don’t need to understand the exact technical details of how quantum computers work. However, it is important to understand their potential impact, and one area where the impact can certainly be dramatic is cryptography and cybersecurity.
Quantum computing and cybersecurity
Online data security now relies on encryption. Everything from the e-mails we send to the classified government communications relies on data that has been mathematically scrambled so that only those who have the digital key to unscramble it can read it. can. However, just like a locked door, you can always force it open with enough force. Encryption works on the principle of guessing all potential “keys” until a good one is found (known as “brute force”). This would take a very long time, even on today’s fastest classic supercomputers.
RSA and ECC are two of the most popular online encryption protocols, exploiting the difficulty of factoring large numbers to make key “guessing” and brute force attacks difficult. But quantum computers can perform these computations millions of times more efficiently than classical computers, so someday these protocols may become obsolete.
Right now, quantum computers aren’t powerful enough to do this, but the hope that they will eventually is already cause for concern. For example, the US government recently made “preparing for a post-quantum future” part of its plan. National Cyber Security Strategy. And the World Economic Forum cites an estimate that worldwide he has 20 billion digital devices that will need to be upgraded or replaced.
How can I make my business quantum secure?
The term quantum safe means that organizations are prepared for the impact of quantum computing on their ability to continue to operate safely.
Most organizations start by identifying where vulnerabilities exist and developing strategies to prioritize and remediate those vulnerabilities.
Broadly speaking, vulnerabilities can exist wherever non-quantum secure cryptography is used to protect sensitive or personal data. This may include secure communication channels, systems for processing and clearing online transactions, storage of sensitive data, and digital authentication systems that store and process passwords, signatures and certificates.
A possible solution could involve moving to one of the four quantum-safe algorithms. defined According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These were selected after his six years of research into the types of algorithms most likely to withstand future quantum-powered cyberattacks.
And of course, there is always the possibility of harnessing the power of quantum cryptography itself. quantum key distribution It takes advantage of a strange principle inherent in quantum physics. In other words, simply observing and measuring an entangled quantum object causes change. When we detect that these changes are caused by an attacker, we can generate an alert or automatically update the keys to prevent unauthorized access.
As always, my advice is to “start with strategy”. Implementing a quantum safety strategy involves identifying where vulnerabilities could disrupt or interrupt business goals and implementing solutions to mitigate the impact.
A core part of this effort involves monitoring the “threat landscape” to stay abreast of emerging forms of quantum attacks. Cybersecurity teams are clearly at the forefront of monitoring and remediating these emerging threats. But everyone across the organization needs to be aware of the dangers and how their vigilance can play a role in the organization’s cybersecurity strategy.
The Future of Quantum Computing and Cybersecurity
Experts predict that the advent of quantum computing will bring many useful advances. These could include more efficient drug discovery, more accurate simulation of the environment and climate change, optimization of complex supply chains and logistics operations, and new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. there is.
It could also be the key to creating more efficient and greener energy sources by solving the problems of power generation and storage. These are problems involving complex chemical interactions at the subatomic level.
And while this clearly poses a threat to the cybersecurity arena, it also promises to bring greater security in the form of new cryptographic techniques and protocols, as we have covered.
But like any new technology, nuclear power and artificial intelligence are prime examples of our time, but the potential negative impacts must be carefully considered and approached.
As we move into the quantum age, a solid understanding of the threats, benefits, and impacts is key to enabling businesses to harness the positives while mitigating the negatives. Preparing for this now means that we have the greatest chance of ensuring that this new and strange technology has a net positive effect on people, society and the planet as a whole.