Understanding quantum supremacy and its implications for cyber security
Quantum computing is a complex area, even before you start looking at the implications for cyber security. This is, essentially, technology that uses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems that would be too complicated for your regular computer. It’s an area of computing that has been developing quickly, for example IBM now has a Quantum Condor processor with its 1000 qubit capacity. This is more than twice as powerful as its predecessor. For reference, a qubit (quantum bit) is the basic unit of information for quantum computers, and the counterpart to the traditional bit (binary digit).
Whilst quantum computing has incredible potential in areas like faster analytics and supporting cutting edge applications there are some challenges around cyber security too, bringing us towards post-quantum cryptography.
Innovations and risks
The development of quantum computing is taking us into a world of exciting new innovation where we will see increased efficiency in supply chains and new medical drug discovery thanks to this increase in computing power. However, as with any development in technology, such a leap forward also creates vulnerability. If left unprotected against the future, quantum computers will have the power to break through existing security, opening the potential for data breach and challenges to the integrity of digital assets. We’ve broken down three key cyber security threats that need to be a focus as the quantum supremacy arrives.
1. Harvest Now, Decrypt Later (HNDL) attacks
Cyber criminals are targeting your encrypted data on the premise that once quantum computing is accessible, so is your data. This is a cyber security risk for any organisation, whether it’s an intelligence agency or a bank. Cyber criminals will likely already be harvesting encrypted data, ready for the day that they can decrypt it with quantum computing. Although they may initially target large institutions, the same technology will eventually be used to focus on any organisation with valuable data.
2. Asymmetric cryptography becomes useless
These are the methods that we currently use for encryption and which have proven very effective at protecting data. But these ‘math problems’ that have essentially been created for regular computers are simply no match for quantum computing.
3. Making blockchain technology vulnerable
Blockchain depends on the kind of public key cryptography that quantum computing will easily break and this is going to make blockchain technology incredibly vulnerable. According to one recent study, 25% of bitcoin in circulation are in addresses with a public key that is published on blockchain – as a result they could easily be stolen by a quantum computer.
Enter post-quantum cryptography: A solution for quantum threats
We don’t yet know when quantum computers are likely to become mainstream, but the consensus is that it will happen in the next decade. The solution to the cyber security challenges posed by quantum computing lies in the development and implementation of post-quantum cryptography. This field focuses on creating cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to the formidable capabilities of quantum computers. Today’s cyber security solutions must be proactive, building awareness and relying on innovators to develop and adopt quantum-safe algorithms.
Tackling quantum threats with CyberHive Connect
Quantum supremacy is coming, and this has significant implications for cyber security. Our Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) overlay product – CyberHive Connect – utilises post-quantum cryptography (also known as quantum-safe cryptography) to protect the devices of today, from the threats of the future. Get in touch today to learn more about how CyberHive’s tailored cyber security solutions can shield your company.
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