Post-Quantum Crypto Agility

What does it really mean to data protection?
Is it really the end of encryption as we know it?

The Threat

The threat and arrival of quantum computers is ever-present with physics breakthroughs, more Qubits, quantum “supremacy”, and cloud service providers designing quantum computers, but what does it really mean to data protection? Is it really the end of encryption as we know it? 

What is Quantum Computing? 

Answer: Quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, based on quantum physics to break barriers currently limiting the speed of today’s common computers. It does not give you more processing power, instead it relies on superposition (ability to be in multiple states at the same time) and entanglement (the perfect unison of two or more quantum particles) to process large quantities of information including numbers. The first real use for quantum computers will likely be for advancements in areas such as material design, pharmaceuticals, and optimizing the power grid.

How will Quantum Affect Today’s Cryptography?

Answer: Today’s public key cryptography is based on factorization for RSA algorithms, or discrete log problems with DSA, Diffie-Hellman, and Elliptic-Curve Cryptography (ECC). Although these hard problems are sufficient today, as soon as a hacker has access to a quantum computer they will be able to weaken these algorithms with quantum algorithms such as Shor’s or Lov Grovers, by breaking them or reducing the strength of the symmetric crypto keys and crypto hashes. As a result, everything we rely on today to secure our connections and transactions will be threatened by quantum cryptography, compromising keys, certificates and data. 


Today no quantum computer can run quantum algorithms, but once it does, a multitude of public key-based protocols including TLS / SSL, IPSEC, SSH, Internet of Things (IoT), digital signing and code signing will become vulnerable to eavesdropping and public disclosure as they are not strong enough to resist a quantum attack. No one has a concrete date as to when we will hit the post-quantum era, but there are strong indicators that it will start somewhere between 2023 and 2030. If these dates are in fact true, then in some cases, it might already be too late. For example: 

  • Root Certificate Authorities (CAs) – are valid from 2028 to 2038 which is well beyond when quantum computing will arrive
  • Data Retention Requirements – an enterprise that stores and keeps data safe for a determined period of time for compliance or business reasons must take into account the post-quantum era as it may only be 4 years away
  • Code Signing Certificates - most will expire in 2021, but any data you transferred over TLS will be potentially decryptable with perfect forward secrecy
  • Document Signing Solutions – anything signed now will not have integrity in the post-quantum era
Post-Quantum Risk Assessment

Post-Quantum Risk Assessment

In just 5 minutes you will gain a better understanding of your organization's post-quantum breach risk.

What top actions can my organization take today as quantum computing becomes more prevalent?

Crypto algorithms don’t require quantum to be broken – most break over time and it happens without warning. The post-quantum era just adds another level of concern. A few items you can start practicing today include: 

1. Practice Crypto Agility:

Crypto Agility provides you with the ability to quickly react to cryptographic threats by implementing alternative methods of encryption. As a result you will:

  • have the agility to respond to incidents 
  • have a definitive inventory of all certs and keys from all issuing authorities
  • know how you are using your keys
  • be able to automate management of server/appliance trust stores and key stores
  • allow for remote updating of device roots, keys, and certificates
  • ensure your PKI can be quickly migrated to new post-quantum resistant PKI root and new algorithms

2. Secure the Enterprise with Quantum Key Distribution

Start protecting your mission-critical connected devices today using advanced quantum-safe digital certificates and secure key management for IoT connected devices. Together Thales and ISARA are partnering to ensure connected systems for automobiles, industrial control systems, medical devices, nuclear power plants and other critical infrastructure are safe from threats in five, 10 and 20 years.

3. Protect Applications with Quantum Random Number Generation

Generating unique and truly random numbers is a powerful combination to securing an enterprise. High entropy and secure key storage addresses critical applications where high quality random numbers are absolutely vital such as: cryptographic services; numerical simulations; cloud; compliance; gaming; and IoT-scale device authentication and managed end-to-end encryption.

4. Take our Post-Quantum Risk Assessment

Without quantum-safe encryption, everything that has been transmitted, or will ever be transmitted over a network is vulnerable to eavesdropping and public disclosure. Take our free Post-Quantum Risk Assessment and in under 5 minutes you will have a better understanding if your organization is at risk to a post-quantum breach, learn about the scope of work required, and what you should be doing today to be post-quantum ready.

Act Now

Although the post-quantum era is still a few years away, practicing crypto agility now will help avoid expensive security retrofitting in the future as quantum computing becomes more prevalent.

Don’t risk a compromise of your private root keys. Contact us to learn how Thales’s Luna Hardware Security Modules, Thales’s Data Protection on Demand, and High Speed Encryptors, together with ISARA’s Quantum-Safe Security Solutions can help you get prepared.

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