Quantum computers promise to be unimaginably more powerful than traditional computers. As a point of reference, quantum computers could find the prime factors of a 2048-bit number in . A classical computer would take millions of years to do the same.
This has huge implications for the cybersecurity industry. The security of many modern cryptographic algorithms relies on the extreme difficulty of finding the prime factors of large numbers. This task is virtually impossible for current-day computers, but quantum computers will be able to tackle it with ease.
Quantum computing may seem distant and unworthy of our attention now, but cybersecurity experts and even the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. government is becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of hackers stealing data now to crack it later.
The “Harvest Now to Crack Later” Strategy
According to Dustin Moody, a mathematician at NIST, adversaries and nation-states are likely stealing and holding on to data until they can crack it later with quantum computers. Governments are aware of the threat of a “keep to crack later” strategy. They’re taking even the slightest chance of this strategy being real very seriously and are working hard to develop quantum-safe algorithms.
Now, why would need to worry about a threat that’s possibly quite a few years away? What’s the big issue with hackers stealing data now?
The answer is as follows – some types of data will remain valuable for businesses and governments even after the quantum threat enters the game. Today, if encrypted, leaked data will most likely stay safe because hackers will not be able to crack it with brute-force methods. No classical computer has enough power to try all the possible keys for industry-standard encryption systems in an achievable time span.
But imagine what happens when a malicious group somehow gets access to a quantum computer. It might be a crude, barely working prototype, but if given just enough time, it might be able to effortlessly punch through your cryptographic defenses.
The result is simple yet catastrophic– all your secrets that you assumed were safe would come into the possession of hackers.
What Types of Data Can Have Long-Term Value for Hackers?
Certain types of data require prolonged, secured storage – for years and even decades. It’s this sort of data that might interest the more farsighted bad actors and nation-states. This might include our private, personal data – driver’s license numbers, social insurance numbers, wills and estates, financial or investment details – highly classified government secrets – nuclear codes, military plans, scientific research and discoveries, power grids – to company secrets – financial projections, new product development, trade secrets, software source code, and more.
These kinds of data must be protected in the long run because they can have long-lasting business value. Not only that, but some forms of data in some industries – like healthcare – must be safeguarded in a manner outlined by regulations and standards.
If you fail to protect business-critical data, you will lose any sort of competitiveness you’ve had in your industry. And what is arguably much worse, you may face legal consequences for data breaches and leaks.
Low Data Storage Costs Enhance the Threat
Data storage is NOT costly. In fact, annual storage costs per terabyte of data arethe lowest they have ever been. Certainly insignificant for a nation-state or a well-funded and sophisticated bad actor. Storage costs used to be seen as a possible deterrent to Steal Now Crack Later – now, however, it seems as if it’s an incentive.
Quantum-Secure Your Data Today, Forever
We can’t tell for sure if bad actors are indeed stealing data that they can’t crack yet. But we should assume it’s happening and take urgent steps to protect our personal information, company information, and our state secrets, TODAY.
If you want to ensure the long-term protection of your data, you should start thinking about quantum threats today. Reinforcing your current cybersecurity measures with quantum-safe encryption is a great place to begin.
Without assistance, building a quantum-proof infrastructure can be extremely challenging.
Quantropi can help you determine where you are now and what you should do to protect your assets tomorrow. Powered by our patented TrUE technologies, our QiSpace™ platform can help you seamlessly transition your infrastructure to quantum technology. Try QiSpace™ and get access to quantum entropy as a service and quantum-secure symmetric encryption that’s 18x faster than AES-256. Both can be easily and rapidly integrated into any new or existing application.
Contact us today to learn more about our quantum cybersecurity services.