Companies all around the world now face a rising threat to their data security. Indeed, in 2016 alone it was reported that the total cost of digital attacks to the UK economy amounted to £30bn. With the dawn of new forms of computation around the corner the threats are increasing.
The dangers of cyber attacks on firms are significant. For example, a cyber breach can have a profound impact on an organisation and can quickly force a business into administration. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey revealed that nearly seven in ten large businesses identified a breach or attack in 2017. The same report also found that businesses holding electronic personal data on customers were much more likely to suffer cyber breaches than those that do not (51 per cent compared to 37 per cent).
Although quantum computing provides incredible possibilities for global industry and humanity as a whole, they also represent a significant threat to the universal mathematical padlocks that keep sensitive data secure. Many speculate that within the next 5 years, advanced quantum computers could seal the fate of universal encryption methods. The good news is that some of the smartest people are working to outperform these machines and create quantum cyber solutions that will keep data safe as we venture into a new digital age.
Quantum Business recently spoke with Michele Mosca, CEO of evolutionQ. Michele is one of the world’s leading quantum scientists with an expertise in quantum computing, quantum cryptography, and conventional cryptography. He co-founded Canada’s Institute for Quantum Computing, was a founding Faculty Member of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and co-authored the respected textbook An Introduction to Quantum Computing.
Michele told us that in recent years he had become especially worried that we were not doing enough to prepare and deploy new cryptographic foundations in time. He felt compelled to do something before it was too late.
Michele’s vision and hope is that quantum computing will stimulate the redesign and rebuilding of our cryptographic foundations to not only be resilient to quantum attacks, but to be much more robust, and agile to other unknown attacks in the future. “The advent of a quantum computer could be a positive milestone in history with broadening and deepening waves of applications that will create new sectors and transform many existing ones for decades to come.” Put simply, “quantum computing will drive a safer and more prosperous future.”
Michele became interested in cryptography as an undergraduate. “I was focused on breaking the mathematical foundations of public-key cryptography with classical computers. When I first heard of quantum computers and how they would break RSA and Diffie-Hellman based cryptography I thought it was a joke and repeatedly dismissed it. But as I studied quantum computing, the more I understood the current state of quantum technology and saw how it could redefine what is possible and what isn’t.”
According to Michele, over the past decade, his focus has been rebuilding cryptographic foundations to be secure in the era with quantum computers. “Because of my cryptography background, I am very aware of how challenging this undertaking is, and because of my quantum computing background, I understand the key milestones towards using quantum technology to break cryptography.”
Don’t Wait For Your Home to Collapse!
With the technological landscape shifting at an unprecedented rate, industry leaders must consider the best ways to achieve a robust and stable cyber security strategy.
“The main objective moving forward is to build a stronger cryptographic foundation so our infrastructure is resilient to quantum attacks.” But Michele recognises three options or scenarios that could play out depending on the rate of response to cyber security.
- “The first scenario is that we procrastinate for so long that it is too late do anything. In this situation we get caught by surprise and critical infrastructures collapse systemically with no quick fix.” Michele believes this would be a historic global catastrophe that equates to “waiting and allowing for your home to collapse.”
- The second option is that leaders procrastinate and then panic and rush to deploy a fix. “This will lead to a poorly designed and implemented cryptographic foundation, full of many flaws for cyber attackers to exploit for decades. It will be like waiting till the situation is dire and quickly deploying a sloppy patch at great expense, that continues to be problematic, with floods, etc.”
- “The third and best option is that leaders take a disciplined approach to revamp the cryptographic foundations in a way that makes them not only very resilient to quantum attacks, but better able to recognise and adapt to defend against future unexpected attacks.” This also allows us to embrace new forms of technology that were not previously available.
“While your house is a construction zone to find the foundation, you can also redo the plumbing, and other things that needed fixing, but were not realistically going to get done otherwise.”
Quantum Safe Roadmap
evolutionQ is playing a leading role in the push to prepare global cybersecurity to be secure against quantum computers. One of the leaders in the organisation, chief cryptographer, David Joa, invented one of the main approaches to quantum-safe public key cryptography available today. Ultimately Michele claims that the work being done by his team will mean that the quantum era will be a positive milestone in human history.
“Our education, training and outreach helps organisations understand that they need a quantum-safe roadmap. Today we are pioneering a methodology for quantum risk management, including our “Quantum Risk Assessment” (QRA) framework. This allows organisations to integrate managing quantum risk into their regular risk management practices. The deep understanding of the various quantum vulnerabilities is complemented by our work in properly preparing systems to be resilient to quantum attacks.”
What are evolutionQ looking forward to? “We don’t focus on publicity around stand-alone solutions, rather on partnerships with companies that need to quantum-proof their systems and products. There are recent exciting announcements about research and training collaborations between myself and our Chief Cryptographer, David Joa, with RBC, one of the worlds’ largest banks. This intellectual capital and brain trust we are building is at the foundation of our company. There will indeed be some exciting developments I can tell you about in the coming months. Things are really heating up in a good way.”
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