Take the First Steps To Quantum-Safe Security Now to Avoid Mistakes Later


The following is an excerpt from a contributed opinion piece on Next Gov by Scott Totzke, CEO & Co-founder of ISARA Corporation.

No enterprise—whether a government, a military or a private company—can afford to be unprepared.

To channel former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the dawning field of quantum computing is full of “known unknowns’’ that will pose unprecedented challenges to IT managers and cybersecurity professionals.

The biggest of those is timing. We know that after billions of dollars and decades of research into quantum computing, it’s a virtual certainty that a large-scale quantum computer will be a reality in the first half of the 21st century. We don’t know precisely when we will hit certain milestones—when, for example, a quantum computer will overtake even the most powerful classical supercomputer in a wide range of practical applications. Or even when, exactly, we must begin preparing for that day.

We must begin preparing now because no enterprise—whether a government, a military or a private company—can afford to be unprepared. 

The security risk posed by quantum computers is existential: As Dr. Deborah Frincke, director of the National Security Agency’s research branch, has pointed out, a practical quantum computer will be capable of cutting through public-key cryptography standards and exposing everything from banking accounts to military secrets. 

Scary stuff, but Dr. Frincke rightly advises not rushing headlong into a security upgrade before the National Institute of Standards and Technology certifies a variety of quantum-safe cryptographic algorithms currently under evaluation. That could be like showing up early to a gunfight with a very expensive rubber knife.

Read the complete article on Next Gov.