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BP’s Chief Digital Innovation Officer shines spotlight on quantum computing and QKD

In a recent interview for CIO, BP’s Chief Digital Innovation Officer, Morag Watson, examines the digital technologies she believes will drive the 109-year-old organisation towards a digital future.

Morag Watson arguably has one of the most exciting and indeed important jobs within BP. She and her 25-strong team made up of physists, marketers, industry experts and digital specialists are responsible for investigating new emerging technologies that could create new business opportunities and help drive efficiences within the organisation. In short, she is responsible for driving BP’s digital future.

In a wide-ranging interview, Watson comments on how digital technologies will play an integral role in reducing energy emissions at BP and explores which ones are likely to be most influential – both to the business and in the wider world.

Importantly, an area she touches on is quantum technologies; explaining that “quantum key distribution and quantum sensors could also play a major role in securing critical infrastructure, a growing concern as governments and non-state actors are increasingly targeting these assets with cyber attacks.”

She goes on to speak about how current prime factoring encryption methods will be at risk from quantum computers, but at the same time suggests that the forward secrecy of quantum key distribution will overcome these issues:


“Our current encryption is all based on something called prime factoring,” says Watson. “You take a humongous big number and you can break it down into it’s prime factors. I did maths with my daughter last week, as soon as you get to above something like 300 trying to break down everything into prime factors is quite tough, but computers can do it.”

“Generally speaking, a massive number is very hard to do. So as quantum computers come in they will be able to break that kind of encryption. But, quantum encryption will actually be the solution to that I believe, because it doesn’t give you a new form of encryption but it says when you get this piece of information here, it has been tampered with. So you know that it’s not okay, so you bin it and ask for new information again.”

You can read the full interview here.

For further information on QKD, visit the Quantum-Safe Security section on our website.

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