ETSI releases migration strategies and recommendations for Quantum-Safe schemes

Sophia Antipolis, 11 August 2020

The ETSI Quantum-Safe Cryptography (QSC) working group is pleased to announce the release of Technical Report TR 103 619 defining migration strategies and recommendations for Quantum-Safe schemes, and enhancing cryptography awareness across all business sectors.

The threat of quantum computing to asymmetric cryptography has been extensively reported in ETSI’s work and elsewhere, and has been recognized as an existential threat to the many business sectors that rely on asymmetric cryptography for their day-to-day existence. However, recognizing the threat is not sufficient, nor is knowing that a quantum-safe cryptographic algorithm exists to enable encrypted assets in a business to be protected. The entire business must now be ready to migrate to a new Fully Quantum-Safe Cryptographic State (FQSCS). In anticipation of this, ETSI has developed a new technical report defining a framework of actions that an organization should take to enable migration to a Fully Quantum-Safe Cryptographic State.

What we lay out in the migration Report is getting the role of cryptography and the depth of its integration in a business better understood. We need to increase cryptography awareness so that people send out encrypted data keeping in mind that it may be commercially sensitive years later when attacks are possible. This helps counter harvesting attacks,” says Scott Cadzow, the Rapporteur of the Technical Report in the ETSI QSC group.

The migration framework, and the migration plan that documents it, comprises the following three stages:

  • Inventory compilation
  • Preparation of the migration plan
  • Migration execution

The first stage makes the simple point that migration cannot be planned without knowledge of the assets in the organization that will be impacted by a quantum computer. This stage outlines that compiling the inventory is a business process that will require a dedicated manager and a budget assigned to its development and maintenance, recognizing that this may be an extension of existing inventory management with a particular focus on cryptographic properties.

Stage 2 involves detailed planning, and is again treated as a business process. The broad assumption is that migration will be on a like-for-like basis, that an asymmetric cryptographically protected asset will be protected in the same manner after migration, and that symmetric cryptographically protected assets will likewise also be protected in the same manner after migration. However, it has been documented that during migration planning some assets may be substantially redesigned and perhaps even retired.

One aspect stressed in stage 2 is that both migration and initial deployment designs will achieve the same end point but migration differs only insofar as there is an existing working deployment to support business functions sensitive to disruption. The role of stage 2 is to ensure that the entire business is aware of the migration and that its importance is recognized.

The final stage 3 is the turnkey element of the migration itself. The ETSI Report offers a series of checklists to address the management and planning of migration in some detail.

About ETSI
ETSI provides members with an open and inclusive environment to support the development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services across all sectors of industry and society.  We are a not-for-profit body with more than 900 member organizations worldwide, drawn from 65 countries and five continents. Members comprise a diversified pool of large and small private companies, research entities, academia, government and public organizations. ETSI is officially recognized by the EU as a European Standards Organization (ESO). For more information please visit us at

Claire Boyer
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