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New Tool Deters Quantum-Powered Cyberattacks

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) reportedly turned to quantum protection methods to protect a foreign exchange transaction from potential quantum attacks, which was assisted by technology provider Toshiba, telecom company BT, and Amazon Web Services.

The era of quantum computing is rapidly approaching, and many experts worldwide are worried about the technology’s impact on today’s encryption methods. Due to quantum computers’ ability to perform impossibly fast computations, much faster than today’s supercomputers, unlocking the password to a bank account might be something such computers could instantly do.

For a powerful international bank like HSBC, the threat of a quantum cyberattack looms large and intimidating, and so HSBC said that it is working proactively to counter such attacks long before they become a reality.

According to Interesting Engineering, for the trial, HSBC focused on a single transaction on a foreign exchange trading terminal and a 30 million euro to dollar trading scenario. Global head of foreign exchange at HSBC Richard Bibbey said that “eavesdropping” on such a flow of money would provide a significant amount of information and the ability to manipulate the market.

In order to counter this, the bank used quantum key distribution (QKD) as a form of encryption, an approach in which particles of light deliver secret keys to parties involved in the transaction that help encrypt and decrypt the sensitive data.

The question is, why deal with this issue now? Tech giant IBM recently claimed that by the end of this decade, quantum computers would reach a point where they would be able to solve complex problems but not beat today’s encryption tools- in this scenario, HSBC’s attempts could seem too premature.

Nevertheless, CEO of HSBC Bank Colin Bell said in the press release that by investing and experimenting in quantum technologies now, HSBC is not just preparing for the future; they’re shaping it. “Today’s trials will define tomorrow’s triumphs. Successfully pioneering quantum protection for our FX trading is a significant step with far-reaching implications for the blueprint of our future cybersecurity.”