In the increasingly digital world where we live, reliable security is an absolute necessity. Individuals and organizations store more and more valuable data digitally each year. Aside from just sensitive and proprietary data, our technological advantages have left us with more complex vulnerabilities each year through digital channels. Breaches to coding can provide keys to those who would victimize employees or even clients. Proprietary and private information is valuable, and with growing investment in digital value like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFT), securing your digital space is securing your organization’s wealth and livelihood.
Conventional cryptography (the science of securing communication) and security, however, is based on a conventional internet. With quantum computing technology potentially nearing a breakthrough, experts have to look very critically at the viability of modern cryptography in a post-quantum world.
Quantum computing has the potential to achieve technological advancements that are unimaginable with our current microchip technology, but that in itself brings serious post-quantum cryptography challenges. Preparing for technology we don’t yet have can be difficult, but advancements won’t wait for anyone to be ready. Assessing cryptography and taking proactive steps to prepare for future threats is imperative for everyone in the world right now to protect digital security.
Quantum computing operates fundamentally differently than modern computers. The technology leverages the infinite states of electrons by measuring their spin. Compared to our traditional binary computer system, the possibilities for where this new technology can take computing power and cryptography are staggering. Increased power in quantum systems could render many cryptographic solutions useless, while quantum cryptography will likely progress to be exponentially more secure by its very nature.
This shift in technological power leaves a delicate and dangerous period where traditional encryption is totally vulnerable to quantum systems. While there are still many unknowns about how quantum computing technology will emerge, planning for and creating a playbook for migrating potentially vulnerable systems to post-quantum cryptography is urgent for any organization that relies on cryptography.
Cryptography experts have been preparing for a shift to quantum technology for years. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has been engaged in this topic since 2016. Their dedicated team, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, researches what steps could be taken to prepare the cryptographic landscape for a post-quantum world. In a recently released white paper, the team warns, “In the absence of significant implementation planning, it may be decades before the community replaces most of the vulnerable public-key systems currently in use.”
As this chilling warning indicates, many public-key systems will be entirely ineffective against quantum attacks. Replacing current cryptographic algorithms with measures strong enough to protect against a new generation of computing power, however, is not a simple task. Many algorithms would require massive resource investment compared to their contemporary counterparts. This may create a barrier to a simple fix for many organizations.
“Performance and scalability issues may demand significant modifications to protocols and infrastructures,” the white paper states. Strategies to the way we encrypt information must be changed. Understanding the nature of our vulnerabilities and the limits of our capabilities is the best way to ensure that your encryption migrates seamlessly into the future of computing.
Preparing for the future
No one can know what the future brings until it arrives. Quantum computing will arrive though, regardless of how prepared the infrastructure of our technology is for it. Preparedness for this monumental advancement requires diligent planning and analysis now. Creating a playbook for what cryptographic enhancements you need for your particular situation is absolutely necessary to be prepared for the next step in communications and technology.
Post-quantum cryptography carries complicated challenges. The future is never certain, but the best we can do is prepare and plan ahead to protect our responsibilities and valuables. At Webhead, we’re passionate about embracing technological advances but also preparing for how their adoption could affect the world. If you have questions about how developments in quantum computing could affect your organization, or how to better prepare with post-quantum cryptography solutions, contact us today.