Quantum security is a developing field with the potential to transform cybersecurity, but it's not yet fully available. However, the threat to current cryptographic systems by quantum computers is already a reality. Therefore, preparations are needed by investing in quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms and protocols.
What is Quantum Security?
Quantum security refers to the use of quantum mechanics to secure the transfer of data. Quantum mechanics provides a powerful tool for encrypting messages and ensuring their privacy and integrity. Unlike classical encryption, which relies on mathematical complexity to protect information, quantum encryption uses the properties of quantum mechanics to ensure that any attempt to intercept or eavesdrop on the transmission of information will be immediately detected, and the communication can be aborted.
Quantum security is based on the use of quantum key distribution (QKD), which enables two parties to share a secret key that can be used to encrypt and decrypt messages. QKD relies on the principles of quantum mechanics, which allow for the creation of entangled particles that can be used to transmit information securely over long distances. QKD is resistant to all known attacks, including those that exploit the power of quantum computers, which are expected to break many classical encryption algorithms.
Quantum security has the potential to revolutionise the field of cryptography, making it possible to secure information in ways that were previously thought impossible. It is already being used in some applications, such as secure communication between government agencies and financial institutions. However, it is still a developing field, and much research is being done to improve the efficiency and reliability of quantum security systems.
Quantum Key distribution
Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a technique for sharing secret cryptographic keys between two parties, such as Venessa and Peter, over an insecure communication channel. QKD relies on the principles of quantum mechanics to provide security guarantees that are provably unbreakable, even in the presence of an eavesdropper, Eve, who has unlimited computational power.
The basic idea behind QKD is that Venessa and Peter can use the properties of entangled quantum particles, such as photons, to establish a shared secret key. Vanessa sends a stream of photons to Peter, with each photon being randomly polarised in one of two possible directions, such as up or down. Peter then measures the polarisation of each photon he receives, using a randomly chosen basis, such as the horizontal or vertical direction.
If Eve intercepts any of the photons, the act of measurement changes their quantum state, and Venessa and Peter will notice a change in the correlations between their measurements. By monitoring these changes, they can detect the presence of an eavesdropper and abort the key exchange. If no eavesdropper is detected, Venessa and Peter can use a subset of the photons they exchanged to generate a shared secret key that is known only to them.
The security of QKD relies on the fact that any attempt to measure or copy a quantum state necessarily disturbs it, and the disturbance can be detected by legitimate parties. QKD is therefore provably secure against any attack, including those that exploit the power of quantum computers.
Quantum-resistant encryption or post-quantum encryption
Quantum-resistant or post-quantum refers to cryptographic solutions that are designed to be secure against attacks by both classical and quantum computers. With the advent of quantum computers, many of the currently used cryptographic algorithms, such as RSA and ECC, are expected to become vulnerable to attacks that could break the security of encrypted data.
Quantum-resistant cryptography, also known as post-quantum cryptography or quantum-safe cryptography, is based on mathematical problems that are believed to be hard even for quantum computers to solve. These problems include lattice-based cryptography, code-based cryptography, and multivariate cryptography, among others.
The aim of quantum-resistant cryptography is to provide a smooth transition from current cryptographic systems to new ones that are secure against quantum attacks. This is important because it takes time to develop and standardise new cryptographic algorithms, and it is crucial to start deploying quantum-resistant systems well before quantum computers become a real threat.
Many organisations, including government agencies, financial institutions, and businesses, are already taking steps to implement quantum-resistant cryptography in their systems. This is a rapidly evolving field, and much research is being done to develop new quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms and protocols that can provide long-term security for sensitive data.
QuTech, Eurofiber and Juniper Networks deploy Quantum testbed
QuTech, Eurofiber and Juniper Networks have launched a Quantum testbed connecting several data centre locations in The Netherlands. This testbed enables, amongst other applications of quantum cryptography, a way for partners to explore secure communications based on the fundamental laws of quantum physics. The testbed is open for new partners to join and co-explore quantum technology’s possibilities.
Securing communication with quantum technology
As the number of cyber-crime incidents is increasing, concern has risen fueled by the advent of quantum computing, data that is secured with today’s standard cryptography methods are potentially under threat. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a technology that distributes a data encryption key by using quantum effects in such a way that it is more secure against wiretapping attacks. Today and in the future, QKD helps protect data from potential future quantum computer attacks and is believed to play an essential role in securing networks with high-value data, such as critical infrastructure, governmental, police and justice department and financial data.QuTech—a collaboration between the TU Delft and TNO—is one of the globally leading institutes for quantum technology and has developed the specific MDI-QKD technology on which the testbed is based. MDI-QKD (measurement device-independent QKD) offers a range of advantages in security and cost-efficiency when building larger networks compared to existing point-to-point QKD.
QuTech is a mission-driven research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Together, they work on a radically new technology with world-changing potential. Their mission: to develop scalable prototypes of a quantum computer and an inherently safe quantum internet, based on the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics.
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