The quantum security quandary

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Quantum computing is an inevitable technology, with the private sector and nation-states racing to be the first to unlock its potential. While it can be used for all kinds of good, quantum computing could also be used to unravel critical systems.

One of the most common ways to protect data is to encrypt it using an RSA algorithm. In simple terms, it relies on the fact that while you can easily multiply one prime number by another, it’s very hard to work out prime factors from any given number. Quantum computing could make this much easier, allowing criminals to decrypt sensitive data.

The UK is among a number of nations investing in quantum computing, with the government having recently announced £900 million for exascale quantum computer. Stakes are high as we enter into what some have dubbed a ‘quantum arms race’, with the first to successfully crack encryption holding all the cards when it comes to its myriad use cases.

In this episode, Rory and Jane speak to Tim Callan, chief experience officer at cyber security firm Sectigo, about the current state of quantum computing research and how the industry can prepare for this seismic shift.

Highlights

“Think about those industrial secrets that, let's say, another nation-state might want to take away. Think about those military secrets, think about the plans for the stealth fighter. Those are the things that are very, very valuable. And those are the things that we need to worry about most immediately.”

“When I talk to people about this, I often say quantum computers are no longer a science project, they are now an engineering project. And what I mean by that is there's no question that it will work, and it will be commercially viable, and it will be practical. It's just about figuring out how to really get them all tuned in the way we want them.”

“What you should be doing now is you should be making yourself crypto-agile. Which means you have the ability to change your cryptography as needed at will. And there are a few steps for crypto agility. One of them is inventory or cryptography. Amazingly, most enterprises can't even tell you what cryptography they have implemented, where it is, how it's being used, whether or not it meets current standards.”

Footnotes

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Rory Bathgate
Staff Writer

Rory Bathgate is a staff writer at ITPro covering the latest news on artificial intelligence and business networks. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, after four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at rory.bathgate@futurenet.com or on LinkedIn.