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Cybersecurity: Embracing the Quantum Shift

Cybersecurity: Embracing the Quantum Shift
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Research and development in the realm of quantum computing is developing rapidly. The global market for quantum computing is predicted to grow to a value of over USD 10 billion by 2024. With it is increased processing power, quantum computing can do wonders for cybersecurity, but it also brings with itself potential threats that cannot be left unchecked.

What is quantum computing?

Quantum computing is a computing process that uses the principles of quantum physics to address issues too complicated for traditional computers to handle.

Particles can assume multiple states simultaneously and can even be correlated/entangled despite being at a distance, at the quantum level. These quantum phenomena are used by quantum computing to process information in radically different ways.

Quantum computing in cyber security

Quantum computing has advanced the realm of cyber security exponentially. Here are some of its applications:

Quantum cryptography

As photons are nearly impossible to manipulate or intercept without the receiver noticing, quantum cryptography utilizes keys encoded on photons to encrypt messages.

Quantum random number generator

Since pseudo-random number generators are algorithms rather than truly random numbers, they are not very secure. This is the case with conventional random number generators. Quantum random number generators can produce unpredictable numbers by utilizing quantum optics.

Quantum key distribution (QKD)

Secure communications are based on the sharing of cryptographic keys, which enables confidential information flow between two or more participants. The exchange of encryption keys can be done in full secrecy thanks to QKD, which also uses elements of quantum mechanics to detect potential eavesdroppers.

Efficient identification of cyberattack

Quantum computing has the potential to help the security sector identify malware more quickly and precisely than current techniques. Deep model training becomes significantly more expensive as data sizes and complexity rise. Machine learning algorithms could become substantially quicker, more time- and energy-efficient thanks to the developing science of quantum machine learning. This could therefore result in algorithms that are more successful in recognizing and countering cutting-edge cyberattack techniques.

One example of this is antivirus software, which uses pattern recognition software to scan files for known malware signatures and prevent them from running if any of these signatures are found.

Potential threats brought by quantum computing:

Quantum computing is a technological marvel that has revolutionized the processing of data and information, but it is a boon that comes with its fair share of banes.

Harvest now, decrypt later (HNDL) model

This is an attack in which threat actors gather encrypted data from target companies with the full expectation that the material can be decrypted at a later time, when quantum computing achieves a level of maturity that can make several widely used cryptographic methods, such as RSA, completely obsolete.

High susceptibility to cyber attacks

Most asymmetric algorithms available today are based on challenging math problems, including factoring big numbers, which, can take many years to solve by today’s computers. Studies done over 20 years ago at MIT by Peter Shor showed that a large-scale quantum computer could theoretically answer the identical problem in a matter of days or hours. Asymmetric encryption systems that rely on discrete logarithms or integer factorization for security may be cracked by future quantum computers.

Threat to encryption in Blockchain

Not only does quantum computing pose a threat to existing encryption systems, but it also has the potential to make blockchain technology very vulnerable. Blockchain is especially vulnerable to attacks that disclose a user’s private key given only the public key because it relies on the widely accepted consensus of trust, which is attained through the use of public-key cryptography.

Breaking public-key cryptography

Based on 2048-bit numbers, RSA encryption is a popular type of encryption used today, especially when delivering sensitive data over the Internet. The foundation of RSA is the difficulty of computing the product of two prime numbers. A traditional computer would need trillions of years to crack RSA encryption. Approximately 4,000 error-free qubit quantum computers might quickly outsmart RSA. But that would require more than a million of the noisy qubits of today. It might be a while before we crack that encryption, given that IBM’s 53-qubit quantum computer is now the largest quantum computer.

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