The objective of the Quantum Technology initiative within the Hague Security Delta (HSD) is to create the practical facilities for cyber security companies to experiment with Quantum Key Exchange technology. These companies can improve practical skills and knowledge and realise innovative solutions for their (encryption) products. In this way we will get prepared for the post-quantum era.
The quantum computing security challenge
Quantum computers are widely seen as a breakthrough technology, especially when employed in disciplines like artificial intelligence, cryptography, and big data analytics. Yet, with the undeniable promise of quantum computing come vast amounts of hype and confusion, ranging from what a quantum computer precisely entails, to when one can expect a quantum computer and what it might offer.
"A collection of qubits makes up a quantum computer, which is physical hardware that makes use of quantum effects in its computations. Within quantum computing there is a distinction between a narrow quantum computer and a universal quantum computer. The latter is a computer that is, in principle, capable of performing any calculation, given enough time and memory. Current generation quantum computers are all narrow quantum computers, meaning they are able to solve only a specific set of computations". Source: HSD report Implications of Quantum Computing within the Cybersecurity Domain
However, there is agreement that quantum computing will first and foremost have a major impact on the field of encryption: one of the main protection mechanisms of our current day digital information storage and exchange. At the core of all of this is the effect that quantum computing could have on the encryption of stored and communicated data. Large amounts of data, such as used in financial transactions, email communication, critical infrastructure operations and transportation systems, are encrypted.
There is strong public and commercial interest in developing and deploying quantum-proof cryptography. As a matter of fact, various companies have already taken steps to secure smaller firm-critical datasets in new quantum-proof encryption protocols to avoid the risk of retroactive decryption. Overall, there are two approaches to achieve quantum-proof cryptography. Both are critical fields of research and innovation and both are required for a quantum proof cryptography:
- Post-quantum cryptography (PQC): Developing new encryption algorithms that are where quantum computers have no advantage in computational speed
- Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) Making use of quantum effects and quantum communication in the process of key establishment and key distribution.
HSD Quantum Programme
The Quantum initiative within HSD will initially focus on the setup of a fieldlab for Quantum Key Distribution. It is completely possible today to setup a star Quantum Network, where users have the ability to connect through a central quantum measurement. In this way users can accomplish a 100% fundamental safe key distribution. Cybersecurity companies who are dependent on asymmetric cryptography for key exchange can develop and test their products and solutions with this new QKD facilities.
On 17 September, during the HSD Cafe on Quantum Computing, HSD Office released a study into the implications of Quantum Computing within the Cybersecurity Domain (conducted by HCSS).
Next Steps: Call for Use Cases
In anticipation of the availability of the Quantum Networking lab environment, HSD Office is looking for use cases to realise new practical developments and Quantum ready security products. If you have a relevant use case in mind for your organisation or working domain, please contact Stef Liethoff, Innovation Liaison at the HSD Office.