Page 10 - ETSI-Newsletter-Feb-2017
P. 10

Industrial Standards for Quantum Cryptography

       By Andrew Shields, chairman of ETSI ISG QKD

                                            Europe has a long history of leading   The threat of quantum
                                            research in quantum information      computers
                                            science and technology. During 2016
                                            the EC announced a €1bn Flagship     Quantum cryptography will also be
                                            initiative to translate this world-leading   secure from a quantum computer.
                                            research into innovative products and   Quantum computers can process the
                                            services. This is expected to begin   inputs of a calculation in parallel and
                                            with a ramp-up phase in 2018 and will   can therefore solve certain numerical
                                            provide stability in funding over a 10   problems much more efficiently than
                                            year period. Quantum communications   a “classical” processor. Following the
                                            is one of the four “pillars” of the   work of Peter Shor of AT&T, we know
                                            Flagship and is expected to be one   that a quantum computer can factorize
                                            of the first quantum technologies to   large integers very efficiently. As the
                                            deliver useful applications. Amongst   factorization problem is the basis of
                                            the recommendations of the recently   conventional public key cryptography,
                                            published quantum manifesto for      this would significantly weaken many
                                            quantum technologies in Europe is    of the techniques that we rely on today.
                                            a quantum network linking major      As such there is a pressing need to
                                            European cities to promote this      develop cryptography that will remain
                                            innovation. Standards are recognized   secure when large scale quantum
                                            as essential for industrial and societal   computers become available.
                                            take-up of the technology.
        Several networks employing                                               In 2016, IBM provided the first public
        quantum key distribution            Unique advantages of                 access to a simple quantum computer:
        (QKD) under construction            quantum cryptography                 a circuit they have developed based
        around the world                                                         on superconducting technology.
                                            Interest in quantum cryptography     Fortunately, however, your secrets are
       Global developments                  stems from its unique security       still safe - for now. This early prototype
                                            properties derived directly from     possesses only 5 quantum bits, so it
       The past year has seen remarkable    the laws of nature, rather than      cannot solve any useful problem faster
       progress in the deployment of quantum   assumptions about the difficulty of   than an ordinary PC. Nevertheless,
       technologies in communication        certain mathematical operations.     scaling to large circuit size is largely
       infrastructures, with several networks   It will allow networks to be more   now just an engineering problem. With
       employing quantum key distribution   resilient to technological advances   Google, Microsoft and other IT giants
       (QKD) under construction around      in the future. There is a concern that   investing heavily in this technology,
       the world. In the UK, metropolitan   network communications that are      many believe the era of really useful
       quantum networks are being built     encrypted using conventional public   quantum computers may be less than a
       in Cambridge and Bristol, connected   key cryptography may be stored today   decade away. Given that it takes many
       by a long distance backbone link via   and decrypted in the future when more   years to introduce new cryptographic
       London. Quantum digital signatures   powerful processors or new methods of   infrastructures, it is essential that the
       were demonstrated in another metro   crypt-analysis are available. In contrast,   technology and associated standards
       network in Tokyo. Meanwhile in       quantum cryptographic protocols      for quantum cryptography are
       China a 2000km backbone connecting   should be resilient to all advances in   developed now.
       Beijing and Shanghai is underway     computing and mathematics.           The solution to these new threats
       and the Micius satellite, launched in                                     is likely to involve a combination of
       August 2016, will extend QKD to global   The first applications of        both quantum cryptography and
       distances.                            quantum cryptography are            new “quantum-resistant” algorithms,
                                             likely to be those requiring        with improved resilience to number
        Europe has a long history            long term secrecy                   crunching by a quantum computer.
        of leading research in                                                   ETSI and the Institute for Quantum
        quantum information                 The first applications of quantum    Computing in Waterloo, Canada
        science and technology              cryptography are likely to be those   organize an annual workshop on
                                            requiring long term secrecy, such as   Quantum Safe Cryptography that
                                            encryption of sensitive government or   brings together researchers and
                                            corporate data or the health records of   companies working to introduce the
                                            individuals. Recently Toshiba launched   new technologies needed. At last year’s
                                            a service to encrypt Genome data sent   meeting in Toronto, we heard about
                                            between a databank and an analysis   the various government initiatives
                                            centre in Sendai, Japan. Meanwhile   for quantum safe cryptography
                                            IdQuantique have announced a service   including standardization, recent
                                            for financial institutions and enterprises   technical progress and various industry
                                            to encrypt the data transmitted      perspectives. We encourage interested
                                            between the Geneva metropolitan area   parties to attend the next workshop in
                                            and a remote disaster recovery data   London in September 2017.
                                            centre located 70 km away.
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