Quantum Computing to Protect Data: Will You Wait and See or Be an Early Adopter?
NOV 18, 2018
That changes life pretty darn dramatically. Just imagine all those security certificates issued for websites, emails and digital signatures to validate authentication becoming obsolete in a matter of minutes. We can already sense the drool from cyber criminals and adversarial nations.
Here comes the “the sky is falling” talk, so here’s the disclaimer: we don’t expect this encryption calamity to happen tomorrow, but we do expect it to happen within our lifetime. It’s not unreasonable to think within a decade or so. The 10-15 year mark isn’t all too unreasonable, especially if you start taking into consideration study and standardization. But that’s the problem with any new technology: timing.
So with that said, are you going to wait and see what happens or – if your resources permit – be an early adopter? Here are some thoughts that may help you decide.
If you’re not a data-dependent company, you’ll be pretty safe for the next few years while you play the “wait and see” card. By the time you are worried about quantum computing, you’ll probably have suffered other obstacles that impact you more directly.
But if you are a data-dependent company – like a bank, financial institution or organization that holds and uses plenty of personal identifiable information – you may want to be one of those first ticket holders for the first quantum trains. Note: in case you haven’t been following, a couple of trains have already pulled out of station.
One of those quantum trains specifically related to encryption is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). It’s an interesting concept because the process does not necessarily rely on a quantum computer but rather uses quantum physics to build the key instead of hard mathematics. Read the article for more details on how photons are used to create the key and how a disturbance to the photon protects the data.
It’s not quantum computing exactly, but it’s kind of cool that you’re using quantum physics to help prevent against a potential future quantum computing attack. And we understand there are limitations to using photons, such as speed and distance, but some of us still remember that a 9,600 bit/s modem was a technological breakthrough, and as recently as 20 years ago, if you had a 56.6 kbit/s in your home computer, you were a total rock star.
Keep perspective: 20 years ago wasn’t that long ago. Everything has a beginning. The first trials of online banking started in the early 1980s, and in 2001, Bank of America had nearly three million people banking online. In other words, change comes fast.
So while we are still very much in the “zone of the unknown” a word of advice: if you’re a data-heavy organization and you plan to use and keep that data for years to come, you need to start thinking about new and alternate forms of encryption today.
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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.
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