a report (Opens in a new tab) from IBM has claimed that quantum computing poses an “existential risk” to existing encryption protocols that secure our most sensitive data, such as digital transactions.
Protocols such as public key cryptography (PKC) are said to be vulnerable “once quantum decryption solutions become viable,” which IBM calls a “harvest now, decrypt later” tactic.
“Even if some data is irrelevant or quickly loses value to hackers, data related to national security, infrastructure, medical records, intellectual capital, and more can retain or increase its value over time,” the company noted.
Quantum computing risks
The report highlights that it is not just our data that could be at risk, but potentially our lives. An increasingly intelligent world, with cars and planes talking to each other, also uses PKC to protect communication networks, which may be compromised by the brute force enabled by quantum computing.
IBM expects quantum computing to influence computing strategies across industries by the end of the decade, but while it may remain somewhat under the radar for now, reports of it threatening cryptography go back many years.
In 2016, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (Opens in a new tab) He began working on public-key quantum-secure cryptographic algorithms, which saw 82 proposals narrowed down to four.
IBM is keen to announce that it is involved in the development of two core algorithms: CRYSTALS-Kyber (for public key encryption and key generation) and CRYSTALS-Dilithium (for digital signatures). FALCON and SPHINCS+ were also selected for the digital signature algorithms.
Going forward, IBM argues that collaborating on new standards is vital in protecting our online activity as the quantum computing movement continues to grow.