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Getting ready for a post-quantum world

Quantum computers are revolutionizing the field of cryptography, and organizations need to be prepared for the shift to post-quantum cryptographic algorithms. The ability to change encryption algorithms to withstand quantum computing is crucial for maintaining secure connections over the internet and protecting sensitive data. Public-key cryptography, which underpins secure online transactions and communications, relies on algorithms that are currently unbreakable with conventional technology. However, as computing power increases, older algorithms become more vulnerable to brute-force attacks. That’s why the transition to post-quantum cryptography is necessary to ensure the continued security of online systems.

The development of quantum computers poses a significant threat to current encryption algorithms. Shor’s algorithm, created in 1994, demonstrated that quantum computers could efficiently solve number theoretic problems that underpin the security of current cryptographic systems. With the recent development of powerful quantum computers like Google’s 70-qubit Sycamore, which outperforms the world’s fastest classical supercomputer, the need for post-quantum cryptography is becoming more urgent. Cloud providers already offer quantum computing services, and quantum computers are becoming more accessible and affordable. This means that organizations must act now to adopt post-quantum cryptographic algorithms to protect their data from future attacks.

Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is based on algorithms that can resist both classical and quantum computers. It is essential to transition to PQC as soon as possible because any data encrypted with current algorithms can be stored and decrypted later by quantum computers. Organizations should assume that anything using current encryption algorithms is no longer effectively encrypted and take immediate action to secure their systems. This includes erasing backups that use old algorithms and assuming that any secrets sent over the internet are now in the public domain. Organizations must prioritize the migration to PQC and take inventory of cryptographic algorithms in use, document the process for modifying algorithms, review their supply chain for PQC support, and consider bringing in third-party experts to assist with the transition.

In conclusion, the rise of quantum computers necessitates the adoption of post-quantum cryptographic algorithms to ensure the continued security of online systems. Organizations must prepare for this transition by taking inventory of current encryption algorithms, documenting the process for implementing PQC, reviewing their supply chain for PQC support, and considering external assistance if necessary. The availability and accessibility of quantum computers make it imperative for organizations to act now to protect their data and maintain the integrity of their systems.

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