IBM Quantum, Microsoft, MITRE, PQShield, SandboxAQ, and the University of Waterloo have joined forces to address the potential threat of quantum computers on current cryptographic systems. The coalition, known as the Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) Coalition, aims to accelerate the adoption of post-quantum cryptography in commercial and open-source technologies.
Quantum computers have the potential to crack current encryption schemes that rely on mathematical problems for encryption and decryption. While it would take a classical computer an estimated 300 trillion years to break a 1,024-bit or 2,048-bit RSA key, a powerful quantum computer could theoretically accomplish this in a matter of weeks, days, or even hours.
This poses a significant risk to technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency, which rely on mathematical encryption. The PQC Coalition aims to develop standards for post-quantum algorithms, create secure implementations, and integrate these algorithms into cryptographic libraries and protocols.
The coalition’s efforts are crucial as the transition to post-quantum encryption will require significant advancements in algorithm standards, implementation, and integration. By bringing together industry leaders and research organizations, the coalition aims to pool their expertise and knowledge to ensure a smooth and secure transition.
In 2022, a study determined that a quantum computer with 300 million qubits would be required to crack the Bitcoin blockchain fast enough to cause damage. However, the rapidly evolving field of quantum computing could potentially lead to more advanced qubit arrangements, chipsets, and optimization algorithms that could significantly reduce the qubit requirement. Therefore, it is essential to develop quantum-safe encryption to protect against future threats.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has chosen four proposed post-quantum encryption algorithms as candidates for a PQC-safe encryption standard. These algorithms, including CRYSTALS-Kyber, CRYSTALS-Dilithium, SPHINCS+, and Falcon, have been accepted for standardization by NIST, with Falcon expected to follow suit in 2024.
With the acceptance and standardization of these algorithms, the PQC Coalition can now focus on ensuring key institutions such as government, banking, telecommunications, and transportation services can transition from current to post-quantum encryption. This mission requires leveraging the deep knowledge and hands-on experience of the coalition members to build and implement secure cryptographic solutions.
By collaborating and sharing expertise, the PQC Coalition aims to drive the adoption of post-quantum cryptography and ensure the security of critical systems in the face of rapidly advancing quantum technologies. As quantum computers become more powerful, it is crucial to stay ahead of potential threats and protect the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive data.
The coalition’s efforts are essential in shaping the future of encryption and ensuring the long-term security of digital systems. As technology continues to advance, it is crucial to remain vigilant and proactive in developing robust cryptographic solutions that can withstand the emerging threats posed by quantum computers.