Quick Thoughts: Think Quantum with Cybersecurity

Our Chief Market Strategist Stephen Dover explores how quantum computers will soon unlock and slice through infrastructure and financial systems’ public key cryptography.

    Stephen Dover, CFA

    Stephen Dover, CFA Chief Market Strategist, Head of Franklin Templeton Investment Institute, Franklin Templeton

    Quantum computers will soon unlock and slice through infrastructure and financial systems’ public key cryptography. A single quantum attack against a larger US financial institution could create a cascading financial failure and costs of US$1.95 trillion. Many cyberattacks are “Store Now, Decrypt Later” (SNDL) crimes, however, quantum computers will advance decrypting old data, now.

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    Imagine you’re trying to solve a maze with a quantum computer1 and need to decide: Should you go right or left? Unlike classical computers, the quantum computer can choose both directions at once, exploring all possible paths through this maze simultaneously, and immediately find the most optimal path out. Conversely, quantum computers will likely soon unlock and slice through current cybersecurity and public key cryptography protecting most of our world’s financial systems and infrastructure.2

    • Quantum computers will break public key cryptography, some experts say between five- and 20-years’ time. A single quantum attack against a larger US financial institution that disrupts a national service payment system could create a cascading financial failure, costing between US$730 billion and US$1.95 trillion.3

    • Quantum computers allow us to examine many variables at once that cannot be solved on classical computers. Current quantum computers are special purposed computers, similar to other supercomputers from the mid-20th century, with speeds 100 million times faster than classical computers.4

    • Quantum computing market projections enormously multiplied from US $507.1 million in 2019 to US $65 billion by 2030.5

    • Privacy should be a human right, and our data should only go to those individuals have chosen to give that data to. We need to incorporate data privacy rights while developing quantum, artificial intelligence (AI), and future technologies in a positive direction.

    • Any data on a server can be stolen, stored on a server, sit idle for years, and then decrypted later. Many cyberattacks are “Store Now, Decrypt Later” (SNDL) crimes. Sensitive data should be protected on servers now with new cybersecurity protocols to prevent against future classical and quantum cyberattacks.

    Defense, energy, financial, healthcare, satellite systems and more are all active cyberattack targets. New cybersecurity and cryptography with quantum computing protocols and mathematically different algorithms will mitigate coming quantum cyberattacks. For more, watch “Quick Talks: Quantum Cyberattacks and Data Privacy with QuSecure, Part 2,” my conversation with Dave Krauthamer, QuSecure’s Chief Executive Officer, and Rebecca Krauthamer, QuSecure’s Chief Product Officer who also serves on The World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Quantum Applications.

    ENDNOTES

    1. Quantum computers allow subatomic particles to exist in more than one state simultaneously so that they can exist as either a zero, a one, or both at the same time. Quantum bits, called "qubits," can thus handle a much vaster amount of information much faster than a normal computer. Regular computers use bits to store information that only has two states: zero or one. Source: “Here's how quantum computing could transform the future,” by Business Insider, March 2, 2021.

    2. Source: Developed in the 1990s, the most famous quantum computing algorithm shows that with a quantum computer and its algorithm, it can breakthrough public key cryptography, such as RSA and elliptic-curve cryptography.

    3. Source: “Getting The Big Banks To Confront The Quantum Challenge,” Forbes, May 26, 2021.

    4. Source: “Here's how quantum computing could transform the future,” by Business Insider, March 2, 2021.

    5. Ibid.

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