Quantum Computing and Cybersecurity: What You Need To Know

07.29.22 11:36 AM
While quantum computing isn’t new, it’s becoming far more accessible. Companies are already beginning to rent out time on cutting-edge quantum computing systems, showing just how far the technology has come since its invention.

As quantum computing technology continues spreading, it brings with it ample potential. Quantum computers can tackle complex calculations and analyze mountains of data far quicker than traditional computers, opening the doors for significant scientific advancement.

But there are also risks relating to the widespread use of such powerful systems. Here’s a look at what you need to know about quantum computing and cybersecurity.

How Quantum Computing Threatens Cybersecurity

Quantum computing is making waves due to its ability to process data and complete calculations as incredible speeds. However, it’s those immense calculation capabilities that also pose a threat.

Encryption relies on complex algorithms to secure data. With the introduction of increasingly capable quantum computers, modern cryptography may not stand a chance. While this risk is currently hypothetical, it becomes more real with every new advancement in the quantum computing arena.

If quantum computers were positioned to crack encryption, a wide array of potential applications for that technology exist. Along with decrypting stolen data from companies, nearly all forms of communication would ultimately become insecure.

Similarly, standard cybersecurity measures like strong passwords may prove vulnerable to quantum computing. Even using a simple brute force attack at quantum computing speeds could allow hackers to gain entry into nearly any system, barring mechanisms designed to identify and thwart large-scale failed access attempts.

When Will Quantum Computing Harm Cybersecurity

Technically, today’s quantum computers could be a risk in some instances. Brute force attacks are already effective, though that risk is mitigated by having longer, complex passwords. However, quantum computers can go through all of the potential options far quicker, so systems without robust enough password requirements are undoubtedly at risk now.

When it comes to encryption, symmetric encryption is more vulnerable than asymmetric. Additionally, 64-bit keys have been cracked previously, though it took a massive coordinated effort and multiple years. However, quantum computers could potentially tackle 64-bit keys with relative ease. Even 128-bit may not be enough to safeguard against quantum computing.

Using longer keys – such as 256-bit – is generally considered secure now, even with quantum computing as it is today. Whether that remains the case will depend on how the technology advances.

The main reason that quantum computers aren’t a bigger threat now is accessibility. While companies are allowing third parties to use their systems, requests to do so are vetted, reducing risk. If quantum computing became more accessible, it’s a potential danger in its current form.

What the Future of Cybersecurity Holds

Researchers are already trying to safeguard systems against the potential risks posed by quantum computing. Post-quantum cryptography methods are in development, and some may become available within the next few years. While adjustments would be necessary to embrace the new security measures, they’ll be steps worth taking.

Additionally, it’s critical to remember that encryption is one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Cybersecurity training is essential to ensure that people don’t make mistakes that can lead to attacks, such as clicking malicious links. Credentials management, two-factor authentication, and similar steps may also safeguard against many of the risks.

Finally, remaining informed about cybersecurity trends is critical. Through awareness, you can ensure your company is prepared for the risks of today and what’s on the horizon. That creates opportunities to be proactive, something that will become increasingly vital as technology continues to advance.

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