Secure communication, storage, and use of data enabled by quantum computing and quantum cryptography technologies
Tokyo – Toppan Printing (Toppan), the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), QunaSys Corporation (QunaSys), and ISARA Corporation (ISARA) have announced the launch of a collaboration targeting the establishment of quantum secure cloud technology that will enable advanced information processing and secure communication, storage, and use of data.
Quantum secure cloud technology fuses quantum cryptography and secret sharing technologies to facilitate secure data communication, storage, and use. The establishment of the technology will not only ensure a high level of security that makes tampering and decryption impossible, but will also enable the collection, analysis, processing, and use of highly sensitive personal and corporate information accumulated in such fields as medical care, new materials, manufacturing, and finance. Toppan, the NICT, QunaSys, and ISARA will collaborate to combine their various accumulated technologies, expertise, and experience for development. Pilot testing of application software for implementation in wider society is scheduled to begin during fiscal 2022, with limited practical implementation targeted in 2025, and the launch of services planned for 2030.
It has become increasingly important in recent years for businesses to be able to minimize damage to offices, plants, data centers, and other resources and enable the continuation or prompt restoration of core operations in the event of natural disasters, large-scale fires, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies. With the recent digital shift, it is also now essential that companies can safely store large volumes of important data and recover it in its entirety when necessary. However, there are technical limitations on the ability to ensure resilience against unforeseeable natural or man-made disasters in the future. This creates a need for ultra-long-term, high-security cloud technologies for the distributed and secure storage and complete recovery of information.
Cryptography that is currently widely used makes secure communication possible. However, with the practical application of quantum computing technologies expected to be seen around 2030, there is concern that it will be possible to decrypt highly-sensitive communications, such as electronic payments and digital application forms containing personal data. Uncrackable encryption technologies will therefore be required as society is faced with the challenge of bolstering security.
Details of the collaboration
The collaboration between the four organizations will aim to establish quantum secure cloud technology as infrastructure for data storage/transfer and post-quantum public key authentication. This will be based on system design, consideration of specifications, application of the latest quantum cryptography technologies, implementation of backup and data storage using secret sharing technology, and the development of digital signatures based on post-quantum public key cryptography(*1).
In addition, as part of the Japanese government’s Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP), the NICT is working to establish international standards and is aiming to make proposals to such organizations as the ITU-T, ISO/IEC, and ETSI by fiscal 2022. These proposals cover such areas as network requirements, architecture, and security requirements as well as the evaluation and testing of key management and quantum cryptography modules.
“Toppan is proud to be able to undertake R&D on quantum computing for the creation of Society 5.0 with organizations whose activities are leading the world. For many years we have been involved in operations handling personal and sensitive information as well as security businesses focused on authentication and payment. With concern over existing cryptography technology and security being compromised in the near future, Toppan sees the implementation of new security technologies in society as a major responsibility. Quantum secure cloud technology is a concept for a practical system combining such security technologies as next-generation quantum cryptography and secret sharing. By combining the expertise of each company, we aim to make this a reality and contribute to safety and security in the age of quantum computing,” said Hiroki Shibatani, Executive Officer of Toppan’s DX Design Division.
“The NICT has been working on the development of quantum cryptography for more than 20 years. It is being used for state-level confidential communications and by financial and medical institutions, but is still at the stage of research. In the field of quantum cryptography, China is conducting testing on a far greater scale than other nations, and Japan is lagging behind in this respect. With this collaboration, we hope to establish a ‘made-in-Japan’ quality assurance platform for standardization and ensure that Japan takes the lead going forward. Society 5.0 will see the generation of highly sensitive personal data and high-value business information. It is vitally important that businesses and users are able to store, share, and use that information securely. I am confident that by making quantum secure cloud technology a reality with this collaboration and establishing the foundations to support Society 5.0, we will be able to help enhance Japan’s competitiveness,” said Masahide Sasaki, Distinguished Researcher, Advanced ICT Research Institute, NICT.
“With such developments as Google’s achievement of quantum supremacy, there have been numerous breakthroughs in quantum computing in recent years, and we are getting closer to practical application. However, when it comes to the widespread application of a new technology, concerns also accompany expectations. While quantum computing is anticipated to increase the speed of scientific calculation for materials, there is also the possibility that today’s RSA cryptosystems could be cracked. Because QunaSys handles highly sensitive data for new materials, we feel the need for quantum cryptography technologies that can protect that confidential information. We believe that the quantum secure cloud technology targeted by this collaboration will be essential in the quantum computing age. By leveraging that technology, we aim to create services for material development, an area in which the use of quantum computers is highly anticipated,” said Tennin Yan, CEO, QunaSys.
“The quantum computing era is expected to begin within the next seven to 15 years, and there are indications that existing cryptographic technologies could be compromised. Work to standardize quantum-safe cryptography that is believed to be secure against attacks by quantum computers is therefore underway. It is important to note, however, that it will take time to migrate to quantum-safe cryptography. For example, the modernization of cryptography used by the U.S. Armed Forces, including initiatives to transition from RSA to ECC, remains incomplete after 20 years. It is too late to act once a threat has arisen, so it is essential to promptly formulate plans and start to implement measures now. Quantum secure cloud technology is something that can counteract those threats. We believe that if it can be incorporated into social infrastructure, then there is a large market for it. By leveraging ISARA’s expertise in cryptography migration based on quantum-safe and crypto-agile technologies, we intend to explore the ideal vision for the quantum computing era and contribute to social change,” said Atsushi Yamada, Vice President, Research & Development, ISARA Corporation.
Roles of each organization
Through the development and manufacture of smart cards, Toppan has accumulated a range of smart card security technologies, including encryption, authentication, and unauthorized access prevention. Leveraging this expertise, Toppan will work to contribute to the establishment of a safe and secure society in the age of quantum computing through support for the application of post-quantum public key cryptography and the expanded use of quantum secure cloud technology, as well as the provision of such services and solutions as secure backup and data distribution for highly sensitive digital information.
As part of “Photonics and Quantum Technology for Society 5.0,” the Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) led by Japan’s Cabinet Office, the NICT is researching quantum secure cloud technology and has developed systems featuring quantum cryptography, secret sharing, and next-generation post-quantum public key infrastructure. The NICT will take advantage of this knowledge and experience to pursue the establishment of secure quantum cloud technology that incorporates elements of these systems as well as even more advanced computing engines and will also target the formulation of related international standards.
For more information about the NICT, visit https://www.nict.go.jp/en/.
QunaSys has built up a range of quantum computing technologies through the development of quantum computer algorithms and QunaSys Qamuy™, a piece of quantum chemistry calculation software that makes use of quantum computers. Exploiting its experience and expertise, QunaSys will drive the provision of material development services using quantum secure cloud technology. It will also contribute to the creation of the technology from the user perspective.
For more information about QunaSys, visit https://en.qunasys.com/.
ISARA, with its knowledge and experience in cybersecurity over the years, is a global leader in crypto-agile technologies and quantum-safe security solutions that can continue to protect current computing ecosystems into the quantum age. Capitalizing on know-how garnered in using agile methods to develop these cryptography implementation and public key authentication technologies, ISARA will target the development of quantum-safe security solutions compliant with the international standardization of quantum secure cloud technology.
For more information about ISARA, visit https://www.isara.com/.
*1. Post-quantum public key cryptography: A public key cryptography technology that cannot be decrypted even by quantum computing technologies.
Concept for quantum secure cloud technology.