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Quantum Computing & AI Revolutionizing Cryptography & Security

Utpal Chakraborty, Chief Digital Officer, Allied Digital Services

In his 22 years long career, Utpal has worked with multinational corporations such as IBM, Capegemini, Firmenich, L&T Infotech, and YES Bank, to name few.

While the next big computer race is already under way, some of the biggest technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, and few others are already exploring their quantum computing technology in various avenues. Quantum computers would be used to create a new generation of very powerful, low-cost computing ecosystem that will cater to the demand of parallel computation.

We will not go into the fundamentals of cryptography and quantum properties like superposition and interference or `Shor's Algorithm' in this article.

We would rather briefly discuss the challenges that are emerging in the conventional cryptographic and security arena, as quantum computers are adding-up more qubits onto it and becoming more powerful.

Cryptographers have been working for years to prepare for the possible arrival of quantum computers by developing so called quantum secure encryption methods. Fearful about the fact that quantum breakthroughs are imminent and threaten the sanctity of known encryption algorithms, crypto graphers were seeking to develop quantum resistant crypto that can withstand the intervention of a quantum computers.

It all started with the assumption that classical computers will never be powerful enough to crack AES and RAS. But all assumptions came under threat when quantum computers came into picture. Although AES-256 symmetric keys are believed to be quantum resistant, if the quantum algorithm can run on a large scale quantum computer, it will be capable of cracking even such strong encryptions to the point where all your encrypted data at rest as well as transit are at risk. Of course, quantum computers will have to add more qubits onto itself before it can break such a fairly complex encryption. But that's just a matter of time, because the speed it is advancing at, the day is not far when

it will be able to crack almost every encryption that is built using conventional methods.

Good news is, given the work already underway, researchers have started developing quantum secure cryptography before large quantum computers with large number of qubits become available to break RSA. Quantum computers are unlikely to pose a practical threat to symmetric cryptography and asymmetric cryptography at least for some years. The reason being the quantum behavior of subatomic particles qubits still do not remain stable for long enough. The `Shor Algorithm' used by a quantum computer with enough stable qubits to break through today's public-key cryptography still have some time, so there is no risk at least for now. However, the asymmetry of cryptography like RSA on which we rely today could be broken by the quantum computers.

The use of quantum cryptography now will not only provide immediate protection for your data, but also secures high-quality data and ensures that data with long shelf life is protected against future attacks

Also called 'quantum-resistant' or `post-quantum', the next generation of cryptography is designed to withstand quantum computers are being developed in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the US. We will have to look at the post-quantum cryptography algorithm, which claims to be able to protect data even from the capabilities of quantum computers, called quantum attack. This type of mechanism is called quantum secure cryptography.

The use of quantum cryptography now will not only provide immediate protection for your data, but also secures high quality data and ensures that data with long shelf life is protected against future attacks. It is important that a protocol with information-theoretical security means that security is not based on arithmetical assumptions and remains secure. In addition, the key management systems and protocols used are also inherently protected against attacks by quantum computers.

Faced with this looming threat, IT decision-makers should consider post-quantum cryptography, where a secure attack by a quantum computer would take place in the critical IT systems tomorrow. Today's public key cryptography has proven to be safe from mathematical attacks, but not from quantum computers. The good side is, harnessing quantum computing and AI, it's going to bring very exciting opportunities in almost every field and industry. With the massive parallelism that quantum computing brings to the table, combined with the cognitive element of AI, many possibilities to solve critical problems that we used to dismiss as unsolvable till now.

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