Quantum decryption means the data you encrypt today will be compromised within a decade

Few businesses are in a position to plan strategically on a five or ten-year timeframe, but when it comes to encryption CISOs need to expand their horizons. That’s because, while today’s encryption algorithms are secure against attack by today’s computers, they will be rendered useless when quantum computers finally become stable and usable enough to apply to the task of decryption.

There’s no point waiting until quantum computers are a reality, however, since the minute they are workable they will be able to compromise the encrypted data your company is producing today.

Timeframes for workable quantum decryption systems are shorter than you probably realise: “It is projected that we will have a quantum computer stable enough, in the next 5 to 10 years, to break today’s encryption,” Avesta Hojjati, the head of R&D at DigiCert, told an audience of nervous security practitioners at a recent CSO roundtable.

Quantum success is creating CISO problems

Quantum computers – which introduce a new computing architecture that will be able to break today’s strongest asymmetric-key encryption in milliseconds or minutes – have moved from research tables to commercial reality at a rapid pace in recent years.

IBM already offering as-a-service access to a quantum computer through its IBM Q service. And Australian researchers are at the cutting edge of the global race to commercialise quantum computers, as recognised by the government’s decision to acknowledge UNSW quantum researcher Professor Michelle Simmons as the 2018 Australian of the Year.

Quantum computing promises access to vastly more computing power that will be invaluable for quickly modelling complex data sets, exploring molecular interactions, designing new drugs, and solving complex engineering problems in milliseconds.