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Quantum Computing – the end of the world as we know it or just a hype?

As we conclude our series of cybersecurity awareness articles, today we focus on the Quantum Computing threat to Cybersecurity. John Best is expert in cybersecurity and quantum computing. He is also a member of our Development and Security team. For the purpose of this week’s article, we have interviewed John about quantum computing and its impact on cybersecurity.

How will quantum computing impact cybersecurity?

Quantum computing will make it possible to break much of the common encryption that is used in our everyday digital lives to protect our data. The superpower of a quantum system is its ability to do very large math equations such as identifying incredibly large prime numbers. Large prime numbers are the basis for much of our current cryptography. The large prime numbers are used as secret keys because normal computers cannot do the math computations necessary to find the primes and break the code that is protecting the data. A quantum computer will be able to do prime number factoring in seconds, something our normal computing power would take 100’s of years to do, thus rendering certain kinds of cryptography obsolete.

In what timeframe will quantum computing threaten cybersecurity?

With Google’s recent announcement it is clear that it will be sooner than most think. It’s likely that state-backed cybercriminals will be the first to try this technology out, then it will likely flow to non-state actors. I believe we will see the first evidence of a quantum cyber-event in the form of an unexplainable breach (a breach where the source of the breached data cannot be confirmed) in the next two years.

What can be done by a cybersecurity expert to protect an IT network against a threat powered by quantum computing?

The first step to start protecting against quantum security threats is to inventory your current crypto uses. VPNs, File Encryption, Website Encryption (SSL) all depend on different types of cryptography and most have options in terms of what you choose to use to encrypt your data. Creating an inventory will allow your organization to review your current cryptography uses, identify vulnerable algorithms and replace them with quantum-resistant encryption algorithms. Secondly, all new platforms that use cryptography, and most do, should include a review of the cryptography uses and whether or not they are quantum resistant.

Will quantum computing make cybersecurity obsolete?

No, it will not make cybersecurity obsolete. It will provide a new model of cybersecurity. In the same way that Quantum computing makes older cryptography obsolete, it will create new encryption algorithms that are exponentially stronger than anything we have today. However, like all technology, it will take time for quantum computing to make it into the commercial space and during that time, governments and super large companies will have an advantage.

How quantum computing can be used to advance an organization’s cybersecurity?

In the future, Quantum encryption algorithms will be the standard for protecting data, and with this revolution, data will no longer need to be stored behind a protected firewall along with other security devices. Because the quantum encryption algorithms protecting the data will fundamentally be unbreakable, they can be stored out in the open.  As a result, when combined with decentralization platforms such as Hedera Hashgraph, a new cybersecurity paradigm will have been created that will be impenetrable under most circumstances.

Security threat (as in the end of the world as we know it threat) or just a hype?

It’s a real threat but the world won’t end. This will be something that needs to be addressed in an organized and intentional fashion. The good news is that it can be a non-event if the industry works together, similar to what was done in Y2K to either update or remove vulnerable systems.

For more information regarding the impact of Quantum Computing on Cybersecurity, John highly recommends this book by Roger A. Grimes:

https://www.amazon.com/Cryptography-Apocalypse-Preparing-Quantum-Computing/dp/1119618193/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=roger+grimes&qid=1576002371&sr=8-1

About John Best:

John Best is a highly respected thought leader, visionary, speaker and published author in the area of technology advancements and technology development within the financial services sector.  He is well regarded as an expert in the emerging distributed ledger and decentralized, self-sovereign identity sector.  John was the first person to design and build a successful distributed trading ledger on the Hashgraph DLT. John is currently the host of the popular BIG Podcast, hosted on the BANKNXT fintech podcasting network.  He is the author of Breaking Digital Gridlock.

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