The Threat of Quantum Computing – And What Businesses Can Do About It

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When technology heavyweights like Google, IBM, Honeywell, and Microsoft throwing their quantum computing hats into the ring, it’s clear that a technological arms race is already underway.

Now, while quantum computing could add immense value to the world’s digital economy, it also has the potential to cause harm to its interconnected systems, devices, and data. It’s this particular implication that’s being felt very strongly in cybersecurity communities all over the world. And that’s why the excitement of this cutting-edge technology is also tempered with a good amount of trepidation – and rightly so.

Quantum Computers Can Break Encryption We Rely On

Today’s enterprises depend on to keep their digital ecosystems and data safe. RSA is built on the principles of public key exchange and ‘prime factorization’, a computationally difficult mathematical problem that today’s ‘classical’ computers aren’t equipped to break.

The current standard recommended key length for an RSA encryption key is 2048 bits, which represents an extremely large number of possible keys and a virtually unbreakable cryptography system that has kept enterprise systems safe – so far. But the massive computational muscle of a sufficiently powerful quantum computer tomorrow will break what today’s classical computers cannot do for billions of years.

And when this happens, businesses will find it impossible to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their transactions. This would be an especially serious concern for organizations generating and storing huge quantities of sensitive data for longer time periods. Their adversaries and criminals will be able to steal this data and raise questions about the validity of their digital identities. Moreover, people won’t be able to trust the data they share with the business, even if it’s encrypted – an eventuality that will affect their reputations and endanger their continuing survival.

The Quantum Threat to Cybersecurity – Y2Q

When quantum computers become large and powerful enough to crack industry-standard cryptographic algorithms, the cybersecurity industry will change forever. It will be a point of no return and is often referred to as Y2Q. After this, every data protection tool and policy we use today could become as good as junk.

Even though we’re fairly safe right now, it would be a big mistake for businesses to act in a “we’ll deal with it when it happens” mindset. Things might change drastically overnight – when this happens, how long until you can completely rethink how you do cybersecurity to adapt to the new realities? This will most likely take you months – and during these months, you’ll be left completely unprotected.

With that in mind, these three things need to happen to help us adapt the cybersecurity industry to the quantum threat beforehand:

  • Cybersecurity vendors need to develop quantum-ready protection algorithms and toolsets. These tools will need to use technologies like truly random quantum numbers to enable quantum-safe encryption of data. Quantropi already offers quantum-ready protection in its enterprise security platform QiSpaceTM, so you can consider this point covered.
  • Government and international regulatory bodies need to standardize quantum-proof algorithms. Standards will improve the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of available post-quantum encryption measures and provide inter-compatibility between different quantum-safe solutions. Quantum standardization is underway, with regulatory bodies like the US NIST working on validating post-quantum cryptography.
  • Businesses need to upgrade their data protection arsenals with quantum-proof solutions and policies to continue protecting their data. Many organizations have already taken matters into their own hands and have gone quantum-proof.

Industries at Risk

Clearly, the cybersecurity industry is the most sensitive to the quantum threat. And although quantum computing will affect the cybersecurity industry the most, the consequences aren’t limited to this space. The effects will cascade down to all other industries that deal with data and rely on modern cybersecurity tools to protect that data.

Considering that pretty much every industry today heavily uses digital technology, there’s no single space that won’t be affected by quantum computers. To name a few, here are some of the industries that will likely be affected by the quantum threat:

  • Healthcare
  • Banking and finance
  • Telecommunications
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail and wholesale

Across all industries, quantum computing could have a negative effect from the following three standpoints:

  1. Compliance. Failure to prevent data leaks or theft might lead to the violation of industry-relevant standards and regulations. Depending on the industry and geographical location of your operations, you might need to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Regulation violations could lead to fines and legal consequences.
  2. Competitiveness. Research teams and businesses develop and retain assets to maintain a competitive edge in their industries. Digital data about these assets could become compromised in a hacker attack and be sold or otherwise made available to competing parties. Needless to say, data leaks can nullify any advantage you have over your competitors and undermine your competitiveness in the long run.
  3. Reputation and brand image. Data breaches can have a huge impact on your reputation. Large or repeated incidents could drive your existing customers away, hinder your ability to acquire new ones, and reduce your business’ attractiveness for investments. Data breaches can have especially serious consequences in industries like finance or healthcare where the financial well-being or health of customers is at stake.

Another important thing to remember – it’s not just businesses that are at risk. The data security of entire governments is under threat as well. Nation-state attacks can target a country’s infrastructure, military, and businesses, thus posing a threat to national security and well-being.

Finally, cryptocurrency could also be greatly affected by quantum computers. If you expose your public keys, a hacker with a quantum computer might be able to derive your private key and drain your wallets. Today, most crypto networks hide public keys and only show them after initiating a transaction, but the small window between starting and mining a transaction could be everything hackers need to derive a private key.

How Can Businesses Resist the Quantum Threat?

Efforts are underway to develop stronger public-key algorithms that could resist the code-breaking capabilities of tomorrow’s quantum computers. The U.S. NIST is evaluating dozens of new methods collectively referred to as Quantum-safe or Post–quantum Cryptography (PQC). However, this name itself is problematic because it implies that PQC methods are the strongest bulwarks against future quantum attacks, when this isn’t true at all.

Another so-called ‘promising’ approach, Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), where quantum methods are used by the sender and receiver to establish a symmetric key, is also being touted as a means of quantum-safe communications with ‘unconditional security’.

One serious problem with these two so-called quantum-safe methods is that they can only work over shorter distances and require the set up of special hardware. In this case, ‘special’ means ‘massively expensive’. It also means vulnerable to attack, thus giving the lie to the claim about ‘unconditional security’.

Another issue – the data transfer speeds possible with these methods are also severely limited, which then limits their practical applicability for real-world enterprises. Finally, the mass manufacturing low-cost QKD or PQC hardware that can scale up to meet the needs of growing businesses is nowhere close to happening (if ever).

So is there a way for quantum risk-aware businesses to keep themselves safe today from the approaching quantum threat? Yes there is, and it’s available right now.

TrUE Quantum Secure Solutions

Quantropi is the only cybersecurity company in the world providing the 3 prerequisites for cryptographic integrity: Trust, Uncertainty, and Entropy (TrUE).

Powered by quantum mechanics expressed as linear algebra, our patented TrUE technologies establish Trust between any two parties via quantum-secure asymmetric MASQ™ encryption (coming soon); ensure Uncertainty to attackers, rendering data uninterpretable forever, with QEEP™ symmetric encryption; and provide Quantum Entropy as a Service (QEaaS) with SEQUR™ – ultra-random key generation and distribution to enable secure data communications.

All Quantropi’s TrUE technologies are accessible via our flagship QiSpace™ platform.

To know more about this cutting-edge solution to protect your business from quantum threats, get in touch by using the “Let’s Talk Button“.

Quantum-secure any application, product, network, or device with the QiSpace™ platform — without having to sacrifice performance or make major investments in new technology or infrastructure. See for yourself how only QiSpace™ offers TrUE quantum security via all three essential cryptographic functions. Leverage asymmetric encryption algorithms (the “Trust” or “Tr” of “TrUE”) via MASQ™, symmetric encryption (“U” for “Uncertainty”) via QEEP™ and strong random numbers (“E” for “Entropy”) via SEQUR™.  Make it TrUE with QiSpace™ — and protect your business, brand, and customer promise. Now and forever. 

To learn more about our quantum-secure solutions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts!

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Eric Chan

Eric Chan a.k.a. EEPMON is a Crypto / Digital Artist with 15 years in the industry – and Quantropi’s Creative Emissary. His hybrid fractal/digital creations have been seen in fashion, comics to museums and has exhibited worldwide. EEPMON’s collaborations include Canada Goose, MARVEL, Snoopy, Microsoft Xbox, Canada Science & Technology Museum and was a TEDx performing artist. In 2018 he represented Canada on its first Creative Industries Trade Mission led by Canada’s Minister of Heritage and serves on the Canadian Museums Association‘s Board of Directors. At the same time, he is currently completing his Master of Information Technology – Digital Media at Carleton University. 

Dafu Lou

Dafu is Quantropi’s Director of engineering. Prior to Quantropi, he served as a technical leader at Irdeto, a world-leading provider of digital platform security software, where he was responsible for white-box cryptography, cloaked CA secure core, and iOS/android application protection services, among others. Prior to Irdeto, Dafu served as a senior software engineer at SecureNex Systems, where he led the implementation of an SSL-VPN solution and ECC-based secure data storage & PKI. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Ottawa in 2009. Dafu is also a part-time professor, teaching VLSI, Cryptography and other subjects at uOttawa.

Pauline Arnold

As James Nguyen’s EA, Pauline Arnold brings more than 40 years of experience in complementary customer service and administrative roles. Prior to Quantropi, she served 20 years as Branch Manager and an assistant in investments, and over 20 years at Metropolitan Life Canada in various aspects of the insurance sector – assisting clients, management and colleagues to complete tasks, solve problems, address questions and achieve goals. She also worked part-time for Royal Lepage Performance for 5+ years as a receptionist & admin, and for 5 years was chair of the TKFG’s charity golf tournament.

Bond Vo

Bond Vo is the Business Analyst of Quantropi. Along with Quantropi, Bond has been dynamic in accordance with a fast and evolving startup environment and is responsible in a wide range of areas including market research, funding, and more involved in the controller roles to oversee day to day accounting operation as well as build financing models and budget to achieve company’s ultimate goals/objectives. Bond has applied best practices consistently and successfully supports equity, debt, and non-dilutive funding for Quantropi since joint the team. He earned a Bachelor of Commerce concentrated in Finance from Carleton University. Outside of his professional career, Bond also participated in volunteer for the Vietnamese Immigration Student Association (VISA) to help and support students as well as newcomers in Canada.

Tina Wang

Tina develops websites and participates in a range of different projects, using new frameworks for front-end UI, along with Vuejs, Angula, Beego, Ruby on Rails, and Electron. She developed Quantropi’s desktop CipherSpace application by integrating Electron, Webassembly and Go, to ensure a good user experience, as well as perfect operating system compatibility. She is also part of the dynamic and efficient QKD-NODE project team. Tina is always looking for new ways to increase her knowledge, improve her technological proficiency and enhance her strong execution and implementation skills. Prior to Quantropi, Tina served as a full-stack web developer at Sunny Future, where she maintained a WordPress home site and managed the release of new content for the company.

Nick Kuang

As VP Corporate Services, Nick plans, directs and coordinates a wide range of activities aimed at achieving Quantropi’s vision of the Quantum Internet. He has a keen interest in transformative technologies and the possibilities they offer for bettering our everyday lives. A pharmacist by training, Nick nurtures teams with a focus on integrity and collaborative effort, coupled with strong attention to detail. With prior experience in a successful biotech start-up developing point-of-care test kits, he enjoys the fast pace and challenge of the start-up environment.

Alex He

Alex is a product-oriented project manager who bridges the gaps between the company’s engineering and commercial teams. He has over ten years of experience in the analysis, design and development of enterprise-class applications, with a particular focus on creating optimal user experiences (UX). Ever passionate about cybersecurity solutions that can deliver solid security without unreasonably sacrificing customer convenience, Alex is the lead inventor of a registered patent on user interface security. He is committed to helping ensure that the Agile software engineering team at Quantropi delivers consistently high-quality, high crypto-agility cybersecurity solutions for next-generation communications.

Michael Redding

Before joining Quantropi, Mike was Managing Director and co-founder of Accenture Ventures, where he grew a global portfolio of strategic partnerships and 38 equity investments in emerging technology startups.

During his nearly 30 years with Accenture, he incubated and launched technology innovations for enterprises across multiple geographies and industries. Ever-passionate about bold ideas with game-changing results, he speaks frequently on the impact of emerging technology on large organizations.

With a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton, and a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern, Mike is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Accenture Foundation and Board Observer for startups Maana and Splice Machine.

Raj Narula, P.Eng.

A seasoned technology executive, business builder and angel investor, Raj has held operational and advisory roles in Recognia (Trading Central), Belair Networks (Ericsson), March Networks (Infinova), Sandvine (Procera), Neurolanguage (ADEC), Bridgewater Systems (Amdocs), Vayyoo (Cafex), TenXc (CCI), 1Mobility (Qualys) and others. Having divided his time among North America, EMEA and Asia-Pac for over 20 years, Raj speaks several languages. He grew up in Asia, Europe, South America and Canada, and holds a B.Eng degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ottawa. He is also a co-founder and Charter Member of the Ottawa chapter of TiE (the Indus Entrepreneur).

Ken Dobell

Ken leads marketing strategy at Quantropi. In high demand as a consultant with 25 years’ experience in performance media and an award- winning creative background, he has completed successful transformations, (re)branding and product development mandates with KPMG, Keurig, Fidelity, Eddyfi, Coveo, and more, and provides digital advice to the CMA. Previously, Ken pivoted an offline advertising brokerage to a leading-edge, data-driven performance agency as President of DAC Digital, held a progression of international leadership roles with, pioneered a range of multi-channel initiatives as VP Marketing with a global franchisor, and introduced a mobile-first programmatic media offering to Canada within WPP.

Cory Michalyshyn

Cory brings a breadth of experience to the Quantropi team, working fractionally with multiple SaaS technology companies as CFO, and as the CFO with Celtic House Venture Partners. Prior to these roles, Cory was CFO and COO at Solink, and played a lead role in the metrics-led pivot to a direct-sales SaaS model, followed by multiple VC-backed funding rounds and their recognition as one of the fastest growing start-ups in Canada. He qualified as a CPA while serving technology, VC & PE-fund clients at Deloitte, and earned his Bachelor of Commerce at Queen’s University.

Dr. Randy Kuang

Randy holds a doctorate in quantum physics. His research findings have been published in top international journals and named “Kuang’s semi-classical formalism” by NASA in 2012. With a career spanning IT, including with Nortel as senior network researcher & developer, he co-founded inBay Technologies in 2009, serving as CTO of the cybersecurity platform. As the first recipient of a patent for two-level authentication (2011), Randy is a prolific inventor, with 30+ U.S. patents in broad technology fields, such as WiMAX, optical networks, multi-factor identity authentication, transaction authorization, as well as concepts, technologies and industrial applications for quantum key distribution.

James Nguyen

Prior to leading Quantropi, James was Chief Investment Officer & VP Asia Operations for a group of private and public real estate, mining, energy storage, graphene technologies and manufacturing interests, where, in his responsibilities for strategy, banking and global expansions, he secured large-scale investments and partnerships for commercializing graphene applications across multiple industries. A graduate of Carleton in Economics, he previously achieved success managing a mid-market portfolio (professional services, public sector, Asian markets) at RBC for over a decade. James has been on the HKCBA board, held advisory positions with technology start-ups and gives back as volunteer, fundraiser and mentor.