Concerns about quantum risk today, even before the full realization of practical quantum computing, arise from the potential impact that quantum computers could have on various aspects of cybersecurity. Here are several reasons why there is concern about quantum risk:
Long-term data security: Quantum computers have the potential to break widely-used encryption algorithms, such as RSA and ECC, which are the foundation of secure communication on the internet today. This means that sensitive data transmitted or stored today could become vulnerable in the future if it falls into the wrong hands and is subjected to attacks using quantum computers.
Transition period: Preparing for quantum-safe cryptography is not an overnight process. It requires significant research, development, and deployment of new encryption techniques and protocols that are resistant to quantum attacks. This transition period can take years, and organizations need to start planning and adapting their cybersecurity infrastructure well in advance to avoid potential vulnerabilities.
Data retention: Some data, like government records, financial information, or classified documents, needs to be securely stored for extended periods, often decades. As quantum computers advance and become more capable, the risk to such long-term data security increases. Organizations and governments must consider the possibility of data breaches in the future if they don’t implement quantum-resistant encryption now.
National security: Quantum computing could potentially disrupt national security by undermining secure communication channels, enabling adversaries to intercept classified information, and weakening encryption used for defense systems. Governments are particularly concerned about the potential impact of quantum computing on their military and intelligence operations.
Economic and business impact: Quantum risk extends beyond governments and national security. Businesses rely heavily on secure data transmission and storage for their operations, and a breach due to quantum attacks could have severe economic and reputational consequences. Organizations need to assess and mitigate these risks proactively.