Post-quantum resistance: what it is and why it matters
Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced digital technology. Modern daily life would pretty much come to a total standstill without computers, IT networks, and the wide range of applications that companies and consumers use.
Because this technology plays such an important role in our everyday lives and work, the security of our digital communications and transactions becomes more important than ever. For years, public key cryptography has been the gold standard for securing online communications and transactions. However, recent developments in quantum computing have led to concerns about the potential for quantum computers to break the cryptographic algorithms that are currently used to secure online communications and transactions. For example, attacks on symmetric-key cryptography become quadratically faster with Grover’s quantum algorithm.
The solution to tackle the post-quantum threat? Post-quantum resistance, also known as post-quantum cryptography. But what does this concept entail? And how can post-quantum resistance and post-quantum encryption enhance the security of your online communications and transactions? Read on and find out!
What is post-quantum resistance?
Post-quantum resistance means creating cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to attacks by quantum computers. The technology revises existing math-based algorithms and standards, equipping encryption strategies and standards for the daunting era of quantum computing. Post-quantum resistance is all about deploying next-generation data security solutions with equally powerful protection based on the laws of quantum physics – fighting quantum computers with dedicated quantum encryption.
Why does post-quantum resistance matter?
Modern top-of-the-line encryption protocols such as SSL and TLS are sufficient for defending your systems and data against most modern technological attacks. However, the quantum computers of the future will probably be able to break those math-based systems in a heartbeat.
If quantum computers succeed in breaking the cryptographic algorithms that are currently used to secure online communications and transactions, the consequences could be disastrous. Attackers could potentially intercept and read sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and personal information. This increases the risk of identity theft, financial fraud, and other serious crimes.
Post-quantum resistance is important because it is designed to provide a higher level of security for online communications and transactions. Using cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to attacks by quantum computers allows you to secure sensitive information in the face of spectacular advances in quantum computing.
How does post-quantum resistance work?
But how does post-quantum resistance work? First of all, it’s important to understand that post-quantum cryptography is based on different mathematical principles than traditional cryptography. Unlike traditional cryptography, which is mainly based on the difficulty of certain mathematical problems (such as factoring large numbers), post-quantum cryptography relies on different mathematical problems that are believed to be difficult to solve even for quantum computers.
We can distinguish four basic types of post-quantum encryption:
- Code-based cryptography is based on the issue of solving unknown error-correcting codes.
- Hash-based cryptography uses a scheme that is derived from a one-time signature (OTS) and uses an OTS key pair to sign a message.
- Multivariate cryptography is an asymmetric cryptographic technique based on multivariate polynomials over finite fields.
Lattice-based cryptography uses the properties of lattices to create mathematical problems that are believed to be too difficult for quantum computers to solve.
What is being done to develop and perfect post-quantum resistance?
The development of post-quantum resistance and cryptography is still in its early stages. The good news? A lot of significant research is currently being carried out in this new and exciting field.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently running a competition to develop new cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to attacks by quantum computers. This competition has already attracted significant interest from the cryptographic research community, and it is expected to lead to the development of new cryptographic standards that will be used to secure online communications and transactions in the nearby future.
In 2022, the Dutch National Cyber Security Centre released guidelines for quantum-safe transport layer encryption. This initiative is specifically targeted toward urgent adopters (personal data handlers, organisationally sensitive data handlers, critical infrastructure providers, long-lived infrastructure providers, etc.) who already need to choose a post-quantum alternative.
What you can do today
Post-quantum resistance is an important concept that will play a crucial role in the security of our digital communications and transactions in the near future. Although quantum computers are still in the early stages of development, it is crucial to anticipate their future role and capabilities and keep a keen eye on the potential security threat that they pose.
That’s why we must focus on the development of cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to attacks by quantum computers in the here and now so that we can ensure the security of our sensitive information in the years to come. With significant research being done in this area, we can be hopeful that post-quantum resistance will provide the security we need to continue relying on state-of-the-art technology in our daily lives.