Quantum-resilient encryption

In 2018, both the USA and the European Union pledged around 1 billion euros in investments for quantum computing, and so many concluded that quantum computing appears to be the new IT frontier. Is it the case? Quantum computing uses quantum proprieties to bypass silicon-based limitations in computing capacities. Calculations are made at atomic level and this provides theoretically unprecedented and exponential capacities. But reality is much more complex than theory.

Quantum computing will not be a "universal" computing technology as we know it from silicon computing in the foreseeable future, and this is due to several properties of quantum computing:

· Quantum is based on a quantum engine that functions at the limits of our physical laws, where any disruption or errors have major consequences: nano-systems, temperature near absolute 0, vacuum, supra conductive systems, photonics, etc. This puts huge constraints on the practical usage of quantum computing. Researchers are making progress on these constraints, like at the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, where first qbits work at temperatures of 5 Kelvin.

· Quantum computing is in its infancy, just as many technologies are still in the basic research phase or only just out of it. It is not yet known which technologies will prevail.

· Quantum computing is not suitable for all calculations but is more suited to calculations that are close to quantum physics mathematics.

However, the opportunity is so important that many predict the arrival of “quantum supremacy”, where the performance difference between traditional IT and quantum IT will be so significant that quantum computing will be mandatory. Ironically, the quantum technologies that are functioning today, such as the adiabatic systems from D-Wave are of the most limited kind and are not believed to be able to reach quantum supremacy. Even the well promoted Google “proof” of quantum supremacy it’s not a proof of general quantum supremacy.

Nevertheless, some implications of future quantum computing are relevant today. Some public and private organizations hold encrypted data, which must stay confidential for 10 years and longer. Criminal elements cannot decrypt such data today, but they could steal it today and decrypt it later if and when new quantum-powered decryption technologies are developed. As a result, some organizations must now consider quantum-resistant encryption. Some security vendors already claim to have quantum-resilient algorithms like Utimaco, Secunet, or Gemalto. On the other hand, there is still significant advanced industrial and university research to find optimal algorithms (the mathematical foundations) and formally prove that they are quantum resistant. Among the most promising are currently lattice-based and code-based algorithms.

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