Guide to quantum computing and digital trust

Posted by Mike Hathaway on Nov 24, 2022 10:30:00 AM

Quantum computing is being discussed more and more across business and industry. Its increase in popularity prompted our experts to explain what quantum computing is, how it works and its effect on digital trust services.

 Neon technology showing the blog title: "Quantum Computing & Digital Security"

What is quantum computing?

Understanding quantum computing and the mechanics that make processing data at its speeds can be challenging. Put simply, a quantum computer uses quantum mechanics to perform computations that are impossible with traditional computers.

Quantum mechanics is a field of physics that explores the behaviour of particles. 

Institutions, organisations, and companies intend to use quantum computers for applications that require significant processing power or vast data sets.

Quantum computing is at the forefront of technological development, and its possibilities are still emerging.

How can quantum computing benefit businesses?  

Many industries will implement it to process complex and large data quantities with speed, including: 

  • Facial recognition, modelling and tracking
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
  • Large data models, such as
    • Molecular
    • Chemistry
    • Genomics
    • Traffic optimisation
    • Financial

While processing power and speed have improved significantly over the last two decades, quantum computing will be even more powerful. For business and industry, this is excellent news.

This new era of computing will provide a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Enhanced encryption and decryption - While providing faster decryption, it leads to more robust encryption methods too.
  • Improved analysis for big data - Quantum computing - along with 5G and edge computing - will enable faster and easier processing of large data sets.
  • Machine learning and AI development - Quantum processes will enable speedier optimisation for AI programmes and machine learning-based infrastructures.

How will quantum computing impact cybersecurity and digital trust?

While quantum computing unlocks opportunities for security, encryption and processing, it’s also likely that hackers will use it for nefarious purposes.

As reported in the Guardian in 2021, there are already worries about quantum computing’s impact on IT security. Hackers are scraping encrypted data and storing it. While quantum computers aren’t available to the public, eventually, they will be, and that is when hackers will decrypt the data.

While many believed that quantum computing couldn’t break more robust encryption methods - such as the 2048-bit RSA encryption - quickly, a recent breakthrough has shown us how quickly it can be done.

In 2019, Google and Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology proved that an advanced quantum computer can crack the 2048-bit RSA encryption in just eight hours. This was far shorter than the ‘decades’ experts believed it would take.

For the digital trust industry, this is a red flag.

Quantum computers will be able to break the cryptographic and authentication systems we rely on in our digital lives. So, how can we protect our businesses and safeguard our data?

How can high-trust industries quantum-proof their data and systems?

The digital security of the internet and businesses that operate online depend on public key cryptography.

This type of security relies on solving mathematical problems with increasing complexity.

With the introduction of quantum computing, computational power will increase significantly - making the current public key cryptography obsolete. So, how can businesses protect themselves?

Hardware security

For decades, hardware security modules have provided random number generation for encryption protocols. The security industry is aware of the changes on the horizon, and new hardware security projects are being developed.

One such project is laser-based random number generation. Experts expect this project to reliably generate numbers that are sufficiently long enough to withstand the brute force of quantum cracking.

Hashing algorithms

Quantum computers significantly threaten national security and high-trust industries, such as banking and finance. As such, the world’s top minds have prioritised researching and implementing quantum-proofing solutions for the last decade.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 

The US-based NIST has been at the forefront of quantum-proofing research. In July 2022, NIST announced four quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms - the world’s first. The algorithms came out of a six-year-long competition. The minds behind the algorithms designed them to withstand the assault of future quantum technology.

NIST’s current research activities on quantum-safe cryptography and standardisation will ensure an outcome providing algorithm recommendations for specified use cases. The four algorithms announced are currently being considered for inclusion in the standards. The institute plans to announce finalists from these four algorithms at a future date.

Quantum computing and resilience in high-trust industries

While new quantum-proofing algorithms will enable businesses to build more robust cybersecurity infrastructures, we must recognise that providing support in broader ecosystems and within third-party components might be challenging.

Quantum computing will bring a seismic shift in how devices solve mathematical equations. Emerging quantum technology’s threat to data safeguarding is why the industry needs to be far ahead in ensuring digital trust.

As a provider of high-trust digital products, Ascertia adheres to the latest standards and solutions. We stay on top of emerging technology to provide customers with peace of mind.