Quantum computers could crack current cryptography with relative ease. The dawn of the quantum computing age brings with it many potential new risks - including those related to security. The privacy of online communication is currently protected by cryptography, which shields information as it travels around the internet. It secures everything from making online purchases to accessing work email remotely. Confidential and sensitive government and business information is highly valuable to hackers and corporate rivals, whether it relates to the R&D in a pharmaceutical business, geological surveys in the energy industry, trading data in financial services, or budgeting plans and employees’ personal data. And while blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been hailed as revolutionary means to securely store data and financial information, they were built on existing public key encryption - which may not be a match for quantum computers. In general, many of the security algorithms used to keep our information safe could be cracked relatively quickly by a quantum computer, which is able to factor large numbers more efficiently than the sort of classical computer used to build current encryption standards. Broad adoption of quantum computing might still be far in the future, but significant progress has been made. In 2019, IBM and Google each published studies claiming their quantum computers performed a task not possible with even the strongest traditional computers (though they differed on the value of their respective results). Meanwhile government agencies and industry groups have expressed a growing sense of urgency when it comes to transitioning to a quantum-safe future. It is expected to take a considerable amount of time to develop, standardize, and deploy post-quantum cryptographic techniques. Researchers are working on new algorithms resistant to the strength of a quantum computer but also able to meet business objectives. In order to ensure that everyone’s data is safe in a quantum future, and to secure international support, it is crucial that the development of quantum-resistant cryptosystems is transparent - carried out in full view of cryptographers, governments, organizations, and the public. While it might not be an immediate threat, everyone should start considering potential implications of this impending reality.
Post-Quantum Computing Security