March 27, 2024
Tech Giants Unite: IBM Quantum, Microsoft, Google Subsidiary, and More Tackle Post-Quantum Cryptography
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Tech Giants Unite: IBM Quantum, Microsoft, Google Subsidiary, and More Tackle Post-Quantum Cryptography

IBM Quantum, Microsoft, PQShield, a subsidiary of Google called SandboxAQ, the University of Waterloo, and the non-profit research organization MITRE have joined forces to address post-quantum cryptography.

The potential danger posed by upcoming quantum computers is addressed by post-quantum cryptography (PQC). To thwart decoding attempts, current encryption techniques rely on mathematical puzzles.

Such encryption would be extremely difficult for a traditional computer to break or circumvent. A binary computer system, according to some experts, would need around 300 trillion years to decrypt a 1,024-bit or 2,048-bit RSA key.

The encryption algorithm known as RSA, after the computer scientists who initially discussed it, is regarded as the industry standard.

However, theoretically, a quantum computer should be able to decrypt RSA and other encryption algorithms in a matter of weeks, days, or even hours if it has the necessary hardware and design.

“Preparing for a PQC transition includes developing standards for the algorithms; creating secure, reliable, and efficient implementations of those algorithms; and integrating the new post-quantum algorithms into cryptographic libraries and protocols.”

MITRE

Blockchain and cryptocurrency systems that depend on mathematical encryption may be especially susceptible to decoding assaults from speculative quantum computers in the future. It’s not yet obvious the amount of time it could take for these threats to materialize, though.

According to 2022 research, to break the Bitcoin blockchain quickly enough to cause any harm, a quantum computer would need to have 300 million qubits (a very generic measure of a quantum system’s possible processing capacity). Comparatively, the top-tier quantum computers of today typically have slightly over 100 qubits.

According to the architecture detailed in that work, more sophisticated qubit arrangements, chipsets, and optimization algorithms may radically alter the mathematics involved and drastically reduce the potential demand of 300 million qubits. The worldwide IT community is utilizing quantum-safe encryption as a result.

To develop a PQC-safe encryption standard, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) selected four suggested post-quantum encryption algorithms in 2022: CRYSTALS-Kyber, CRYSTALS-Dilithium, SPHINCS+, and Falcon.

Three of the algorithms were approved for standardization on August 24, 2023, according to a NIST announcement. The fourth algorithm, Falcon, is anticipated to follow suit in 2024.

Now that the algorithms have been approved and (mostly) standardized, the alliance is ready to start working on its mission to ensure that important institutions like the government, banking, telecommunications, and transportation services can make the switch from current to post-quantum encryption by utilizing the extensive knowledge and practical experience gathered by its members.

Image: Freepik

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