Government presents plan for post-quantum encryption
The Biden administration is politically committed to promoting American leadership in emerging quantum computing technology.
The National Security Quantum Computing Memo, released last week, directs US federal agencies to prepare for the advent of quantum computing and the related technology of quantum-resistant cryptography.
Political commitment matters because it places the brunt of US federal government spending on an emerging technology that represents a paradigm shift in how computers work.
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Quantum computers rely on the properties of quantum states – such as superposition or entanglement – rather than the simple binary (0 or 1) states of today’s PCs and servers.
When combined with quantum algorithms, the technology can be expected to quickly solve some mathematical problems, such as integer factorization.
This poses a threat to current encryption schemes, whose data could be vulnerable to “capture now, decrypt later” attacks enabled by quantum computers of the future.
Fortunately, cryptographers and computer scientists are aware of the threat and are already working with the US National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to select a preferred algorithm for post-quantum encryption.
Prior to formal ratification, several viable schemes have already been proposed. The developers of the secure networking utility OpenSSH are “proofing” the technology by adopting the NTRU Prime algorithm, a scheme designed to protect against brute force attacks mounted by more capable quantum computers of the future.
The Biden administration’s national security memo directs NIST to establish a “Post-Quantum Crypto Migration Project” at the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, as well as an open task force within industry to generate further research and promote the adoption of quantum cryptography. resilient cryptographic standards and technologies.
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The policy also defines requirements for federal agencies to update cryptographic systems. Specifically, by the end of next year, US federal agencies should have a security hardening policy against quantum computers that can easily crack encryption keys.
Industry experts hailed the US government’s commitment to quantum computing as timely.
Mike DeVries Vermeer, a scientist who writes on technology policy for the nonprofit RAND Corporation, said The daily sip: “[The] The timeline for quantum computing varies, but data in transit is now vulnerable if it is to remain secret for an extended period of time.
Vermeer concluded, “Transitions like this take decades.
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