Archibald Wavell, the late Field-Marshall, wrote about the Malay campaign: “The story (…) is typical of the British way of war and therefore begins with a complete lack of preparation.” I often think about this quote as I try to understand the emerging threats to our national critical infrastructure. Which of the endless threats are we preparing to defend?
Adaptation to change
Our community, that is, technologists, mathematicians, and information security professionals, has generally adapted well to changes in the technology landscape.
At the beginning of the Cold War, the Western security apparatus tried to understand the actions of its opponents by intercepting radio signals bouncing from the ionosphere and analyzing the messages they carried. Later, when the Soviets moved to microwave transmissions, this same security apparatus deployed state-of-the-art line-of-sight interception techniques.
Then, in 1977, after the Soviets began successfully encrypting their communications, the NSA launched the Bauded Signals Upgrade program, which delivered a supercomputer designed to compare encrypted messages with flawlessly transmitted plain text elements. it allowed the agency to break many of the Soviets. ‘high level codes. Time and time again, our innovation has kept us safe, but only when we are prepared to face the threat.
The theory of quantum information, which has been explored since the early twentieth century, has led to a new and exciting dangerous perspective: new quantum algorithms to solve computational problems that have so far proved intractable, or at least unattainable in a period useful. – for classic computers. One of these problems is the breaking of the advanced encryption standard, a key pillar of modern data encryption.
A joint team of researchers from Google engineers and the Royal Swedish Institute of Technology published a study that theorized the breaking of a 2048-bit key in just 8 hours, which would take today’s classic computers more than 300 billion years. The capture? This theory requires a 20 million qubit computer and the largest quantum computer that currently exists has only 65.
His study, along with many similar ones, tells us that quantum technology will pose the greatest threat to the security of our critical systems in the history of computing. It can even be useful to us in future conflicts. However, quantum computers will need considerably more processing power than they do today and will require a significantly lower error rate if they are to be used for cyberspace operations.
To meet this challenge, institutions around the world are rushing to develop quantum computers that are capable of achieving the promising theory.
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology is currently evaluating more than 60 methods for post-quantum cryptography, quantum key distribution, and other security applications. Early indications are that quantum technology will provide the ability to detect, defend, and even retaliate against all sorts of future threats.
Far from safe, most people understand that quantum computing has immense potential for good, with applications in the fields of scientific and medical research easy to imagine. However, this great computing power could also be used to undermine the classical computer systems that depend so much on our nation.
Advantages of quantum computing: preparing for the future
How can we prepare for the benefits of quantum computing while defending its malicious use by our adversaries?
It is well known, for example, that MD5 and SHA1 continue to be deployed extensively between computer systems, despite being amortized for almost ten years. Similarly, our critical infrastructure is fraught with unique points of failure and outdated technology. Quantum technology will not solve these problems and they will be exploited by the quantum computers of our opponents.
For those organizations that are not involved in the development of quantum computers, the preparatory actions are clear. We urgently need to overcome our inability to keep existing equipment safe; the quantum computer of the future will be of little use if we do not break our dependence on inherited technology and current bad management practices. And as quantum computing improves, we must stand up to our opponents by taking advantage of new technology before they are adopted by those who want to hurt us.
The question becomes this: what exactly are the advantages of quantum computing? It’s a good question that doesn’t have a good answer. Quantum computing is too immature for any immediate real-world application or to see the benefits its theory promises. However, we can make some polite conjectures.
Peter McMahon, Cornell University’s Applied Physics and Engineering, writes about quantum computing capabilities: “We’re trying to find something useful we can do with a short-term quantum computer that answers a quantum or physical gravity question. more generally, it could not be answered otherwise, for example, can we simulate a black hole model in a quantum computer? It would be useful? We don’t know if we will find anything in it, but it is very interesting to try -ho ”.
I think McMahon’s comment perfectly captures the wonder and curiosity surrounding quantum technology; we don’t know, specifically, what its application will be, but the possibilities are exciting.
Take, for example, a problem that cybercriminals face on a daily basis: control of data entry and exit depends largely on the concordance of linear patterns. Traditional computers process these patterns linearly, that is, by regulating each pattern inside or outside one by one, while the nonlinear processing of a quantum computer could observe and calculate all traffic patterns at once, while updated the platform threat model and introduced new traffic controls, all without manual intervention.
While all quantum benefits are only theorized at this stage of technology development, smart organizations will adapt their strategy over the next few years to account for a quantum future.