While quantum computing is still in its infancy, disruptions in several industries and cybersecurity could begin to occur much sooner than you realize. Quantum computers process large data sets and perform heavy computations much faster than computers relying on classical computing techniques. In 2019, Google built a quantum computer that could solve a calculation in 3 minutes and 20 seconds, whereas, the supercomputers based on traditional computing would have taken 10,000 years to solve the same calculation, thus already demonstrating quantum advantage or quantum supremacy.
Quantum computing is one of the fastest-growing technologies in the world. Its roots lie in quantum mechanics and can solve powerful computations easily that are too complex for classical computers. In conventional computing, the bit can be 0 or 1. But in quantum computing, the quantum bit or qubit can be 0 or 1, and also any combination of 0 and 1, i.e. 00, 11, 01, and 10. A quantum computer can perform on all four of these superpositions simultaneously. However, the aim of quantum computing is not to speed up classical computing, but to solve certain problems such as the factorization of large numbers which could have a notable impact on cybersecurity.
Impact of Quantum Computing on Cybersecurity
Quantum computing, as it matures, will have profound implications for cybersecurity in the cryptography realm. On one hand, quantum computing will enable prominent technological advancements, accelerate complex mathematical computations and process large data sets. While on the other hand, it seems to threaten modern-day cybersecurity practices, especially in cryptography.
Negative Impact: At present, public key infrastructure (PKI) is at the center of all electronic communications and transactions over the Internet or to the cloud. Public key encryption is the most common and widely used encryption technique to secure traffic and data access. But with quantum computing, the looming threat is that public key encryption can be decrypted easily without using any decryption key.
For instance, the RSA algorithm is based on the fact that the product of two prime numbers is challenging to factor, and a traditional computer will take millions of years to break RSA encryption, but a mature quantum computer could possibly break it within minutes.
In 2021, Deloitte forecasted that 25 percent of Fortune 500 companies would have a competitive advantage due to quantum computing within the next three years. Judging by its steady growth, it is evident that traditional cryptography techniques are at risk of being defeated by this fast-paced technology.
Positive Impact: A major cybersecurity implication can be observed in relation to quantum random number generation and quantum key distribution (QKD). Conventional random number generators, which are critical in cryptography, rely on pseudo-random number generators, vulnerable to security compromises. But, with quantum computing, numbers can be generated randomly, thereby strengthening security.
The basis of securing communication and transactions lies in the exchange of cryptographic keys between two or more parties, thus exposing communication channels to eavesdropping attacks if that trust is broken. With quantum key distribution, the exchange of keys can be even more secure and you can also detect the presence of the intruder in the communication traffic.
Now, it is crucial for organizations to plan for quantum-resistant cryptography and start preparing for new encryption techniques to secure sensitive data from cybercriminals.
How can organizations be more cyber-resilient?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has recently formulated four post-quantum cryptographic algorithms to bolster the security of digital information. The proposed public-key cryptography is powerful enough to protect confidential data after quantum computing arrives at its full power. The algorithms are designed for two tasks primarily:
- For general encryption: NIST has selected the CRYSTALS-Kyber algorithm to access secure websites. This algorithm uses shorter encryption keys that can be exchanged between both parties easily and quickly.
- For digital signatures: NIST has selected three algorithms, CRYSTALS-Dilithium, FALCON, and SPHINCS+. While three of these algorithms are based on a family of mathematical problems called structured lattices, SPHINCS+ uses hash functions.
Biden’s Executive Order on ‘Enhancing the National Quantum Initiative’ outlines “key steps needed to maintain the Nation’s competitive advantage in quantum information science (QIS), while mitigating the risks of quantum computers to the Nation’s cyber, economic, and national security.”
You must keep an eye on the latest developments, secure your data, and be prepared for any resulting disruptions. Setting up research teams can help you shape the technology transition and prevent business losses. The mantra is ‘adapt or die’. Hiring talent with sound knowledge about quantum computing and creating a research team can be a start.
The transition can be complex and costly at the same time. To make your quantum computing journey smooth and be cryptographically agile for the future, you need to gear up your efforts in making public key infrastructure more scalable, flexible, manageable, and quantum-resistant.
Talk to an expert today to know about AppViewX CERT+, a turnkey solution for all enterprise public key infrastructure (PKI) needs, which can help you prepare. CERT+ helps with smart discovery, visibility into security standards, and centralized management of digital certificates and keys across hybrid multi-cloud environments.