For the past eight years, Deloitte has published an annual Tech Trends report which focusses on technologies that are having a significant impact on the world as we know it – highlighting those that are both transformative and state of the art.
While the report predominantly profiles trends in digital reality – that is to say present or near-future innovations – it also dedicates a section to what it refers to as it’s “Exponential Technology Watchlist”. This section looks at “emerging” technologies with an event horizon around three to five years in the future.
In the 2018 Tech Trends Publication, Deloitte highlights Quantum Encryption as one of these exponential technologies. It asks the question, in a post-quantum computing world will computers be powerful enough to render today’s data encryption solutions useless? It also asks if it is possible to “quantum proof” data and communications and if so, when do organisations need to start planning for it.
A quantum leap forward?
The power of quantum technologies is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the exponential growth in computing power means a functioning quantum computer could render even the most complex of contemporary encryption techniques redundant. On the other, the same quantum potential could be harnessed to generate stronger, quantum-resistant algorithms.
When it comes to understanding the potential of quantum, the Deloitte article references two quantum algorithms developed back in the 1990s. Both Shor’s algorithm and Glover’s algorithm have the potential to change the face of cryptography.
The former, used on a sufficiently powerful (quantum) computer, could be used to factor large integers very efficiently (most of today’s encryption algorithms are based on integer factorization of large prime numbers). The latter, could use inverse functionality to attack the cypher itself.
The Deloitte article explores potential defensive strategies, but eschews the principle of “bigger keys” in favour of secure quantum key generation and distribution, with the addition of forward secrecy.
Opinions still vary widely as to when a viable quantum computer will become a reality. However, one thing that commentators do agree on is that it’s sooner than they used to think. Organisations need to be aware that the quantum threat is real and should be making plans now to protect their data in the long-term.
Dr Shihan Sajeed holds a Ph.D. in Quantum Information Science warns those organisations that think they can leave it to the last minute to secure legacy data: “there’s math to prove and new technologies to roll out, which won’t happen overnight. Bottom line? The time to begin responding to quantum’s threat is now”.
A copy of the full report can be found here.
For information about quantum cryptography solutions from ID Quantique, click here.