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The Race to Quantum Readiness: How Public Key Cryptography Can Keep Up

The Race to Quantum Readiness: How Public Key Cryptography Can Keep Up

quantum cryptography
August 9, 2019 | John O’Connor, VP Product Management at Crypto4A Technologies

Over the next 10 years some interesting challenges will be coming to the cyber security space. We are seeing nearly daily advancements in quantum computing, with the potential for serious advances in medicine, material science, technology, finance, and many other areas, that will have an extremely positive effect on our society.

However, these advances come at the cost of the public key cryptography we rely on today that is securing the world’s digital economy.

We don’t know exactly when quantum computing will be sophisticated enough to break our current cryptography, with some experts estimating in the next 3-7 years. It is essential that we think about what this means for the infrastructure that we deploy today, particularly cybersecurity systems that are expected to have lifespans lasting a decade or more.

If we are to keep our data secure and maintain the integrity of our systems in the future, we need to make sure that we are deploying Quantum Ready cybersecurity solutions.

Find out how many CIOs are having certificate related outages before the quantum wave hits - and how you can protect your enterprise.

There are three elements to Quantum Readiness,

  1. Crypto Agility gives organizations the ability to transition to new and evolving cryptographic algorithms in their applications, products, systems, and protocols without significant changes to their current infrastructure.
  2. Crypto Adaptability refers to the ability of hardware, specifically Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) to be updated to support new types of post quantum cryptography.
  3. Quantum Safety allows systems with cryptographic agility and adaptability to be safely and securely updated using algorithms already considered quantum safe by NIST and the cryptographic community.

Crypto Agility enables us to prepare for the transition to post quantum cryptography. It would be nice if this could be a one and done scenario, but as NIST is currently going through various rounds of testing on post quantum cryptographic algorithms there will likely be an adjustment period as we adapt a set of quantum safe standards. The practical introduction of quantum computing will also inform these changes and a series of updates is more likely than a single standard change. It is imperative that systems are agile enough to keep up with these changes and ensure security during this transitional period. 

When choosing new HSM’s it is important to take into account the changing cryptographic requirements that will be placed on the hardware.  Post quantum cryptographic algorithms may have much higher performance and memory requirements than classical cryptography so it is important that the hardware has the capacity to adapt.

The final piece to quantum readiness is the use of quantum safe hash based signature algorithms for signing all firmware and software. This allows for a fully future proof cyber security platform that can adapt securely in an agile fashion no matter what challenges it faces.

Ultimately quantum readiness can only be achieved through the implementation of these three elements: Crypto Agility, Crypto Adaptability, and Quantum Safety.

The Crypto4A platform simplifies the challenges of managing security infrastructure with ease of deployment, ease of use, and remote management. Within the platform our next generation hardware security module or QASM (Quantum Assured Security Module), delivers cryptographic adaptability and agility backed by quantum safe cryptographic firmware and software updates within an always-on tamper proof cryptographic boundary.

The risk for businesses that don’t deploy quantum ready cybersecurity is substantial, which is why we prioritize crypto agility, crypto adaptability, and quantum safety. It’s important for cybersecurity to continue to be a seamless part of business operations that is maintained at the highest of security standards.


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About the author

John O’Connor, VP Product Management at Crypto4A Technologies
John O’Connor, VP Product Management at Crypto4A Technologies

John O’Connor is the VP of Product Management for Canada-based Crypto4A and is an expert on quantum ready security solutions. As part of the Machine Identity Protection Fund, Crypto4A is building a quantum-ready HSM that integrates with the Venafi Platform.

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