The greatest threat to cybersecurity might not be nation state actors, organised crime, or protest groups. Instead, it could be the next generation of computer technology.
Quantum computing promises to be so powerful that it could break key forms of encryption in real time. This threatens some of the basic building blocks of communications, online transactions and even identity.
So far, quantum computers are still mostly experimental. But the technology is developing quickly. Researchers say that “cryptographically relevant” quantum systems — able to decrypt data that is currently seen as safe — may be just a decade away.
And criminal groups might already be acting, by harvesting data that they will later encrypt, once quantum systems become mainstream.
This means that organisations that rely on encryption need to act now to secure their data, our guests warn.
Ramy Shelbaya is CEO and co-founder of Quantum Dice. That’s a business spun out of Oxford university’s quantum optics lab – and which is now using quantum mechanics to create a self-certifying quantum random number generator.
And Axel Poschmann is a cybersecurity expert with a background in both the industry and academia. Currently, he works at PQShield, another business with links to Oxford, and which specialises in quantum-resistant cryptography.
We asked them to explain why quantum threatens security, and what CISOs can do about it.
Interviews by Stephen Pritchard