Quantum Cryptography And Its Role In Securing Digital Identity And Authentication – Consider two predictions. Google CEO Sundar Pichai expects quantum computing to destroy encryption as we know it today in the next five to ten years. Michel Mosca, founder of the Quantum Computing Institute at the University of Waterloo, believes that quantum computing has a one in seven chance of breaking RSA-2048 encryption (the gold standard for key encryption) in 2026 and a 50-50 chance. 2031.
The online security game is about to change. Once quantum computers are able to track massive amounts of results—a feat that’s unlikely to happen much in the future—cryptography will be the current standard, and so will the need for cybersecurity. such as the basic system of the 1950s. Systems that have protected online activity and communication for years are at risk of becoming obsolete. Companies in all industries need to take note now and plan for encryption in the future.
Quantum Cryptography And Its Role In Securing Digital Identity And Authentication
Quantum computing promises significant advances and value creation in areas such as biopharma and hardware development. But in the end it would allow faster delivery of first digit results (using Shor’s algorithm), and it would threaten the foundations of public key cryptography (PKC). Cryptographic systems can be divided into two categories. Symmetric cryptography (such as Advanced Encryption Standard or AES) is used to encrypt messages and is only partially affected by known computer attacks. Doubling the current encryption key length would weaken quantum computer attacks. Asymmetric cryptography (such as RSA) is the basis of PKC and relies on complex mathematical problems (the most common being entering prime numbers). Asymmetric cryptography is widely used in digital processes such as signatures and key exchange to protect communications and networks that are critical to Internet use. These include email exchanges, virtual private networks (VPNs), secure web connections, most e-commerce and digital supply chains. Asymmetric and asymmetric cryptography are often used together: asymmetric cryptography for buildings and large contracts, and symmetric cryptography for encrypting messages such as the https protocol, which is most commonly used in web browsing.
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As public key cryptography enables more than 4.5 billion Internet users to access nearly 200 million websites and $3 trillion in annual retail e-commerce, much is at stake.
As PKC enables more than 4.5 billion Internet users to access an estimated 200 million websites and $3 trillion in annual retail e-commerce sales, much is at stake. An estimated 20% or more of all IT applications rely on public key encryption. Additionally, data currently transmitted based on RSA-2048 is vulnerable to “store now, harvest later” attacks because Internet traffic can be easily copied.
Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is a class of PKC algorithms that rely on a set of mathematical problems that currently have no fast solution using quantum or classical computers, but the key word here is “now known.” Therefore, PQC is vulnerable to future advances in solving mathematical problems or errors in implementation.
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PQC standards are now defined. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is holding an open competition to determine the PQC standard setting that will augment and eventually replace RSA. It intends to publish these standards in the period 2022-24. This means that the window to improve existing infrastructure is seven to nine years – too short for such an ambitious goal. (See Exhibit 1.)
In the past, cryptographic transitions took longer to fully implement. For example, it took more than 20 years for Secure Hash Algorithm 1 and AES to completely replace the Data Encryption Standard (DES) and 3DES. High-value systems are often migrated first while less critical systems (including parts of IT products) are migrated towards the end of their life cycle. Some experts estimate that the transition period for PQC standards will be 10 years. (See sidebar, About this article.) According to Brian LaMachia, who leads the security and cryptography team at Microsoft Research, “When you update the Internet, there’s not much time left.”
While preparing this article, the author spoke with more than 20 experts in quantum computing, cryptography and cybersecurity. They are grateful to the following for their insight and assistance: Greg Bullard, AGB Advisor; Martijn Dekker, ABN AMRO; Chris Erven, KETS; Edouard Giard, Crédit Agricole Corporate Investment Bank; Noel Goddard, Cunnet; Grantley Mail, ; Bruno Huttner, ID Quantic; Christoph Jurczak, quantonation; Mark Kaplan, VeriCloud; Carlos Kuchkowski, BBVA; Paul Kwat, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Brian LaMachia, Microsoft; Antia Llamas-Lineres, Specutral; Alexander Ling, National University of Singapore; Andrew Lord, BT; Pascal Mellot, European Commission; Mehdi Namazi, Connect; Momchil Piv, Huawei; Ludovic Perret, CryptoNext; Escolastico Sanchez, BBVA; Vikram Sharma, QuintessenceLabs; Dirk Stegman, ; Phil Venables, Goldman Sachs; and Eitan Yehuda, .
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Crypto-agility is the ability to quickly adopt and switch between multiple cryptographic standards operating at different levels. It will play an important role in reducing vulnerabilities – and therefore the cost of securing data in transit – during and after the cryptographic transition.
For several reasons, we expect that changes to PQC standards will require a hybrid approach. One reason is the need to address various usage limitations such as connecting to different IoT devices rather than sending PC-to-PC email. Another is increasing the level of security. The third is guaranteeing a prior agreement. In the first phase, several security standards will be integrated and used together. (See Exhibit 2.) This includes RSA and possibly a few PQC standards. In the mid-term, the PQC standard will be updated as needed and will continue to work with the RSA. Eventually, RSA will be replaced and PQC standards will continue to evolve.
Simply put, companies with a high degree of crypto-agility will be better equipped to manage the coming transition than those without it.
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The risk of standardization of distribution along national or regional lines complicates matters. For example, China finalized its PQC standards in January 2020, while NIST in the US has not yet completed its work.
In a connected world with such disconnected facilities, a high degree of adaptability is required. Companies and systems need to support not only a company’s different algorithms, but also the appropriate algorithms of many standard systems, such as NIST, Chinese Cryptologic Research Association, ETSI and IEEE in Europe. Also, as the rate of change increases, the time interval of changing standards will decrease, leading different organizations to update different PQC standards. Companies now need to analyze the value of their data from a security perspective, as some data is sensitive and critical.
Companies with a high degree of crypto-agility will be better equipped to deal with the coming transition.
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For all these reasons, crypto-agility can emerge as a distinctive feature of the company. For some IT product categories that are in the early stages of a long life cycle, such as in the automotive and aerospace industries, the transition will happen quickly. Soon companies will be using legacy products that require specialized solutions – and for some, such solutions may be out of reach. But as digitalization drives many companies to update their applications to the cloud – a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – companies have an opportunity to incorporate crypto-agility into their applications.
Some companies today handle data that will continue to be sensitive in the future, including private or strategic industries such as healthcare, defense contracting and the design and manufacture of advanced equipment. Data moving over the public Internet, although considered secure today, is still vulnerable to “store now, attack later” schemes that allow actors who are malicious to steal and copy a copy of an encrypted connection if a computer needs it. . Companies may want to consider additional layers of security for long-term critical data.
Fortunately, quantum technology not only poses a threat, but also a solution. Quantum-based devices can be used to detect the presence of an attacker on a link while sharing encryption keys using a protocol known as quantum key distribution (QKD). The protocol used with the one-time cipher pad promises unbreakable encryption protection. However, this scenario carries strict conditions, including true randomness, perfect secrecy, one-time use, and message-sized keys, which make it harder and harder to use. Therefore, it is mainly for those who are interested in securing the link for a long time with the highest value and with the highest security, such as public sector and military users.
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QKD is still an emerging technology, and basic distribution rate standards are not compatible with high-speed communication rates (Gb/s). Use cases are limited to low data rates (measured in Kb/s or Mb/s) or low levels of encryption protection. High-speed access is more likely to use standard symmetric protocols (such as AES) and QKD with post-quantum signatures.
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