US Government’s Deep Dive into China and Why the Quantum Threat Matters

China continues to make significant advances in quantum science and with quantum communication networks.  Do these developments pose a threat we should be worried about?  The US Congress thinks so.  On September 30th, the House Intelligence Committee released “The China Deep Dive.”  A summary can be found here: China Deep Dive and the House Republican China Task Force also released its report, which can be found here: China-Task-Force-Report

Of note, the Intelligence Committee summary mentions the ‘Quantum Threat’ in general terms including, “in recent years, China’s advancements in quantum sciences have enabled new innovation in quantum-based cryptography, networks, computing, and space experiments, all of which are fields with clear dual-use military applications."  and they note, “important Chinese technological advances in key fields, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G telecommunications call into question the self-assured pre-eminence of U.S. technology in the rapidly changing technological landscape.”

The Republican China Task Force digs deeper stating, “there are significant implications for national security, particularly for cryptography. One key quantum algorithm could break public-key cryptography, which secures transactions over the internet. While employing this algorithm is far beyond the current level of technology, the need to protect sensitive data and provide a reliable infrastructure over the long-term requires moving to “post-quantum” or “quantum-resistant” forms of cryptography.” The bold sentence above was in bold in the report, which I found interesting.  In addition, on page 58, the report recommends that “the Administration should assess and address the risk to National Security Systems posed by quantum computing. “

What’s interesting in this tumultuous period of political division in Washington is that the report by the House Intelligence Committee, lead by a Democratic Chairman and Democratic majority, and the report by the Republican China Task Force have shared conclusions and both have highlighted the need to treat China’s advances in quantum science and quantum communication networks as a national security threat and to call for immediate action in the form of budget and legislation.  These shared conclusions bode well for future coordinated action on this portfolio.

It also validates the need for CISOs, CIO, SecOps and Cybersecurity teams to take heed of this threat and understand what the impacts will be when quantum computers reach a size big enough to defeat the encryption we use to secure nearly all digital transactions.  Knocking out the cryptography we have relied on for decades is unprecedented and will take vast resources, time and expertise to replace or transition.  This is just starting to sink in with those responsible for ensuring the confidentiality and authenticity of our data transactions online.  In addition to the reports mentioned above, the US government has just launched the site, the official website of the National Quantum Coordination Office. This new dedicated site will feature the latest updates & resources on the Administration's wide-ranging quantum initiatives.  The site’s strategy section includes economic security and international cooperation, two topics that should include addressing the quantum threat and the strategies required to ensure the continuation of national security.

Here at ISARA, we spend a great deal of time highlighting the impacts, sharing our knowledge on the quantum threat and educating on the methods for ensuring an effective mitigation strategy can be implemented.  To this end, ISARA offers the ‘Quantum-Safe Readiness Program for Enterprise’ to ensure cybersecurity leadership have the facts on the threat and understand the solution paths forward.  Information on this program can be found here: Quantum Readiness for Enterprise Program

For more information on the quantum threat in general and the role agile cryptography will play in mitigating the quantum threat, I recommend you download and read our ‘Guide to Cryptographic and Quantum Risk’, which can be found here: Managing Cryptographic and Quantum Risk.  Two great resources to help your organization or government agency understand what’s at stake and what strategies can be deployed.

Update to this original blog with two new links mentioning importance of quantum-safe encryption to national security: Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding the National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies and WSJ - U.S. Moves to Protect Technologies Considered Critical to National Security