Quantum Computing – Two Sides of the Same Coin


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Quantum computing holds the promise of being able to take on problems that could take a normal computer some billions of years to solve and do it in seconds. But it also poses a threat to cybersecurity. 

The US is concerned that powerful quantum computers could be able to break current encryption capabilities, meaning secure communications under current systems will be nearly impossible. On the flip side, US adversaries with quantum capabilities will be able to communicate securely without fear of interception by the US, unless it achieves its own quantum computer.

“Quantum computing may allow adversaries to decrypt [unclassified, classified or sensitive] information, which could enable them to target U.S. personnel and military operations,” a November Congressional Research Service report warned.

In order to confront these challenges, the US Department of Defense will determine the national security threat posed by quantum computing, as part of the new annual defense policy law.

The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act contained a provision that directed the department to deliver a report to Congress that provides a “comprehensive assessment of the current and potential threats and risks posed by quantum computing technologies to critical national security systems.”

The Department must identify and prioritize critical national security systems at risk by quantum computing. 

The Pentagon must outline its needs to be secure in a world of quantum computing and any funding shortfalls in public and private sector efforts to develop quantum-resistant cryptology. The assessment must also include a review of the standards under development by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for quantum-resistant cryptology, as well as an evaluation of alternative quantum-resistant algorithms, according to c4isrnet.com.