Quantum Computing: Opportunity and Threat

“Encryptogeddon is coming for us all,” warned a 2022 article published by the Financial Times. This dramatic headline describes an eventuality in the world of IT: quantum computing.


Quantum computers harness the power of quantum bits, or “qubits,” to make computations 158 million times faster than the fastest computers currently in use. While traditional computers can complete one operation at a time, quantum computers can theoretically complete multiple operations simultaneously, according to the International Conference on Big Data. This functionality will change the world.


The Quantum Opportunity


With its ability to test out thousands of scenarios at once, enabling incredible advancements in simulation, prediction, and optimization, Quantum computing is expected to revolutionize a number of different fields. Real estate brokers can foresee trends in property value and housing demand. Financial analysts can make smarter investment decisions. Pharmaceutical companies can develop life-saving drugs faster. Governments can make predictions on infectious diseases, pollution, housing, and more. In short, organizations analyzing data will be able to run tests that typically took days, months, and years in a matter of minutes. However, the power of simulation and prediction also opens the door for threats.


The Quantum Threat


Imagine a computer that can try out all possible encryption key sequences at the same time. Overnight, traditional cybersecurity would be rendered insufficient. The same industries that stand to reap significant benefits from the power of quantum computers also stand to lose the most. National defense and financial services face incredible security risks once quantum computing breaks into the mainstream.


While the “years to quantum” (Y2Q) remain unclear, most experts expect quantum computers to arrive soon. To date, China has invested $15 billion into quantum computing, while the European Union has invested $7.2 billion. And IBM announced that it would debut the world’s first quantum computer by the end of 2023.


The U.S. government is taking the threat seriously. In late 2022, the Office of the President released a memorandum stating that “the United States must prioritize the timely and equitable transition of cryptographic systems to quantum-resistant cryptography, with the goal of mitigating as much of the quantum risk as is feasible by 2035.”


The time to prepare is now. According to McKinsey, post-quantum solutions––in other words, alternatives to public-key cryptosystems––already exist. The question is: are businesses ready to adapt, implement, and transition in the face of the quantum threat?


To learn more about preparing for the post-quantum world, including how to design a transition strategy and crypto-agile architecture, download our free e-book: Post-Quantum Cryptography: Everything You Need To Know To Prepare Your Organization. 


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