Cybersecurity in an era with quantum computers: will we be ready?

Management (801B) October 19, 2016 1:25 pm - 2:25 pm Feedback     

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Michele Mosca

Quantum computers will break currently deployed public-key cryptography (RSA, ECC, Diffie-Hellman, etc.) which is one of the pillars of modern-day cybersecurity. Thus we need to migrate our systems and practices to ones that cannot be broken by quantum computers before large-scale quantum computers are built. There are viable options for quantum-proofing our cryptographic infrastructure, but the road ahead is neither easy nor fast. Impressive progress in developing the building blocks of a fault-tolerant scalable quantum computer indicates that the prospect of a large-scale quantum computer is a medium-term threat. Initiating the transition to quantum-safe cybersecurity cannot wait any longer without risking a cyber-catastrophe.

Organizations will soon be distinguished by whether or not they have a well-articulated plan for mitigating this quantum risk. Recent announcements by the NSA, NIST and other organizations articulate plans to eventually transition to quantum-resistant cryptography. I will discuss the quantum risk, the approaches for mitigating the risk, and practical next steps that organizations can take now.