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Post Quantum Cryptography: Readiness Challenges and the Approaching Storm

01/04/2021
by   Matt Campagna, et al.
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While advances in quantum computing promise new opportunities for scientific advancement (e.g., material science and machine learning), many people are not aware that they also threaten the widely deployed cryptographic algorithms that are the foundation of today's digital security and privacy. From mobile communications to online banking to personal data privacy, literally billions of Internet users rely on cryptography every day to ensure that private communications and data stay private. Indeed, the emergence and growth of the public Internet and electronic commerce was arguably enabled by the invention of public-key cryptography. The key advantage offered by public-key cryptography is that it allows two parties who have never communicated previously to nevertheless establish a secure, private, communication channel over a non-private network (e.g., the Internet). Recent advances in quantum computing signal that we are on the cusp of our next cryptographic algorithm transition, and this transition to post-quantum cryptography will be more complicated and impact many more systems and stakeholders, than any of the prior migrations. This transition represents a major disruption within the IT industry and will broadly impact nearly every domain of our digital lives, from global commerce to social media to government and more. Cryptographic algorithm transitions take time and involve an extensive coordination effort across many stakeholders who are involved in building and operating the world's compute infrastructure. By preparing now for the upcoming transition to these new algorithms, we can ensure a more orderly, less costly, and minimally disruptive changeover.

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