Cryptography safe for now, but urgent need to develop quantum skills

It is premature to sound the death knell for current keyed cryptography, but there is now an urgent need to build skills in quantum computing. This will ensure that nations have the knowledge to combat potential threats when the technology becomes viable in the near future.

And that future could play out in the next five years as market players make significant progress in the field. IBM, for example, has announced plans to produce a quantum computer capable of clocking at least 4,000 qubits by 2025. This would push the technology beyond the experimental stage, with organizations able to deploy quantum computers between 2023 and 2025, IBM said.

Such progress underscored the need to ensure there were skills ready to exploit and support the future deployment of quantum computing, said John Roese, CTO of Dell Technologies.

Noting that the tech community was ill-prepared for the emergence of cloud computing, he said there were professionals skilled in traditional programming languages ​​such as C++, but there was a shortage of relevant skills to pull advantage of cloud-native architectures.

Businesses and universities have realized this and are making the effort to catch up, Reese said in an interview with ZDNet.

Although the industry has gotten away with it, he stressed the need to learn from this mistake and prepare for the next shift. This would ensure that governments and organizations would be ready when quantum computers became commercially available.

He said the tech field requires a different skill set because the programming language and building logic are different. Software frameworks and toolchains were also new, so the technology workforce, including data scientists, would have to adapt and develop new skills for quantum computing.

Here, at least, efforts seem to be underway. Dell estimates that governments around the world have committed more than $24 billion in research and development investment to build capacity around quantum technology.

That was significant, Roese said, given that the industry now only accounts for $900 million in revenue. He added that Asian countries such as China, Singapore and India were among those that had started working to build capacity in quantum computing.

In Singapore, these plans included a focus on security and building quantum secure networks. The government announced last month that it was set aside S$23.5 million (17.09 million) to support three national platforms, parked under its Quantum Engineering Program (QEP), up to 3.5 years.

These were aimed at building the country’s capacity in quantum computing and ensuring that encryption technologies remain robust and able to withstand “brute force” attacks.

The QEP also included a quantum-safe network showcased to showcase “crypto-agile connectivity” and support trials with public and private organizations. First unveiled in Februarythe project aimed to improve network security for critical infrastructure and involved 15 partners when it launched, including ST Telemedia Global Data Centres, Cyber ​​Security Agency and Amazon Web Services.

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policy Heng Swee Keat said quantum technology could be a game-changer as efforts have been made to stay one step ahead of malicious actors in a rapidly changing cyber landscape.

Heng said, “Strong encryption is the key to digital network security. The current encryption standard, AES 256, has resisted because few have the computing power to use brute force to crack the encryption. But that could change with quantum computing. ”

As quantum computers continued to reach higher computing speeds millions of times faster than supercomputers, he said it was vital that Singapore invest in quantum engineering and research to keep pace. ahead of potential threats.;

Roese noted that although the public key crypto remained robust todaythe quantum progress of the threat shown was “real enough” and may pose some risk in the future.

Personal medical information and certain banking data, in particular, which were permanent records and would remain relevant 10 years later, must remain protected against future threats.

“So the risk is not exposing the information now, but whether it’s potentially vulnerable 10 years from now,” he said, adding that governments would also want to ensure that communications between states -nations remain secure decades later, as a breach could lead to a delicate geopolitical situation.

He highlighted the need for tools to support cryptographic “agility”, which would allow the organization to decide what kind of data should be wrapped in post-quantum encryption.

Asked about Dell’s place in the quantum space, Roese said the tech vendor isn’t looking to produce quantum computers. Instead, it aimed to provide the tools and capabilities to piece together what was needed to make these systems viable.

Describing the end state of quantum computers as the “quantum sandwich,” he said Dell was working with key quantum players, including IBM, to determine how best to architect and integrate conventional computing architectures, such as servers, so they can operate efficiently with quantum at heart.

Part of Dell’s efforts included a hybrid emulation platform that could allow developers to run quantum applications on classical computing infrastructure.

Roese said: “There are very few quantum computers being built today. To get one into production, it’s not just about the quantum component, but the surrounding parts and then you have to operationalize it. .”

Dell hoped to achieve this by “industrializing” the innovation and making it usable, he said, adding that it aimed to do so through its quantum simulation platform and hybrid quantum architecture systems.

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