U.S. Department of Defense Looks to Address Quantum Computing’s Threat to Encryption

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Defense Department must assess threats posed by quantum computers

Key points…

+  The U.S. Department of Defense must assess the national security threats posed by quantum computing, under the new annual defense policy.

+ The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law New Year’s Day after the Senate overrode President Donald Trump’s veto, contained a provision that directed the department to deliver a report to Congress that provides a “comprehensive assessment of the current and potential threats and risks posed by quantum computing technologies to critical national security systems.”

+  “[Cryptology] is … the backbone of much of our security,” said Joël Alwen, chief cryptographer at Wickr, a secure collaboration platform.

“Quantum computing may allow adversaries to decrypt [unclassified, classified or sensitive] information, which could enable them to target U.S. personnel and military operations,” a November Congressional Research Service report warned.


+  Powerful quantum computers pose a danger to national security because they will be able to break current encryption capabilities, meaning secure communications under current systems will be nearly impossible. On the flip side, adversaries with quantum capabilities will be able to communicate securely without fear of interception by the U.S., unless it achieves its own quantum computer.

+  [T]he emerging technologies directorate at the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Pentagon’s IT support agency, has started to explore quantum-resistant technologies. At an event last month, Stephen Wallace, systems innovation scientist at the directorate, told reporters that the Defense Department needed to prepare now for adversaries’ future quantum capabilities.

Source:  AirForceTimes.  Andrew Eversden,  Defense Department must assess threats posed by quantum computers…

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