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The roadmap for post-quantum cryptography / Or Manor / October 4 ,2022

Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits) to deliver higher computing power and speed. They are expected to be capable of breaking existing cryptographic algorithms, such as RSA and elliptic curve cryptography.

This would impact the security of all online communications and data confidentiality and integrity. Security experts have warned that practical quantum computers could be possible in less than ten years.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced the first four quantum-resistant algorithms that will become part of the post-quantum-cryptographic standard in July. Still, the final standard is not expected until 2024. Even so, CISA is encouraging critical infrastructure operators to begin their preparations in advance.

“While quantum computing technology capable of breaking public key encryption algorithms in the current standards does not yet exist, government and critical infrastructure entities—including public and private organizations—must work together to prepare for a new post-quantum cryptographic standard to defend against future threats,” CISA says.

The GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce will help define requirements, identify dependencies, and create the roadmap to implement quantum-safe networking, mitigating the risks associated with future, more-powerful quantum computers.

Without quantum-safe controls, sensitive information such as confidential business information and consumer data could be at risk from attackers who harvest present-day data for later decryption. The World Economic Forum recently estimated that more than 20 billion digital devices would need to be either upgraded or replaced in the next 10-20 years to use the new forms of quantum-safe encrypted communication.

“The GSMA Taskforce’s goal is to bring together leading global communication services providers with experts from IBM, Vodafone, and other operators and ecosystem partners to understand and implement quantum-safe technology.

By working together to establish consistent policies, we can define quantum-safe approaches that protect critical infrastructure and customer data, complementing our ongoing security efforts to increase resiliency in future networks,” said Alex Sinclair, the GSMA’s Chief Technology Officer.

To address the challenges presented by emerging quantum technology, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced in July 2022 that it had chosen the first four post-quantum cryptography algorithms to be standardized for cybersecurity in the quantum computing era.

These algorithms are designed to rely on the computational difficulty of problems from the mathematical areas of lattices, isogenies, hash functions, and multivariate equations — and protect today’s systems and data from future quantum computers.

IBM, contributed to the development of three of NIST’s four chosen post-quantum algorithms.

“Given the accelerated advancements of quantum computing, data, and systems secured with today’s encryption could become insecure in a matter of years. IBM is pleased to work with the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce members to prioritize the telco industry’s move to adopt quantum-safe technology,” said Scott Crowder, Vice President of IBM Quantum Adoption and Business Development.

This task force will support the telco industry by creating a roadmap to secure networks, devices, and systems across the entire supply chain,” said Steve Canepa, General Manager of Global Industries, IBM.

Luke Ibbetson, Head of R&D, Vodafone, said: “Quantum computing is by far the biggest revolution in computing since the 1950s, and most of it will positively impact our industry and society as we move towards fully automated networks. It has the potential to solve highly complex optimization challenges, which may allow us further to fine-tune our networks for an even better customer experience.

“At the same time, future quantum computing could inherently undermine the cryptographic principles relied on today. That is why Vodafone is committed to working with the GSMA and other GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce members to protect and secure customer data with the timely adoption of quantum-safe solutions, policies, and standards.”

The GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce will convene to drive consensus and adoption in this new field, and it will be oriented across three areas:

  • Strategy – integrating quantum-safe capabilities into telco network operators’ technology, business processes, and security.

  • Standardization – to identify the needs and common alignments for integrating quantum-safe capabilities into existing telco networks.

  • Policy – to advise on telco network public policy, regulation, and compliance and ensure industry scale.

A new era is coming.

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