Is Quantum Computing the next cyber security threat?

Cutting through the confusion of quantum computing

‘Quantum’ is a term that is banded around in the world of tech with many individuals still not fully understanding the massive potential it possess and leaving it for the experts to deal with. However, it’s becoming more and more relevant to the world of business so it is essential that the wider tech community begin to wrap their heads around it. In this blog – continuing our series looking at trends in cybersecurity – we explain how quantum computing is the next big thing in the industry, how hackers are trying to use quantum to steal your data and why we’re working to stay one step ahead of them.

What started all this quantum talk?

Firstly, it’s important to understand where ‘quantum’ originates. It comes from quantum mechanics, which renowned physicist, Paul Benioff, applied it to computing in 1981 to evolve data processing. In essence, it involves a fundamental change in the behaviour of energy on a subatomic level whereby particles – such as protons and photons – become charged, thus making leaps and bounds in technological capabilities.

In classical computing, software consists of logic gates that data, interpreted as either 0 or 1 (bits), passes through. Quantum computing surpasses these binary options by adding a third option, 0+1 – where both can be selected together – to form qubits (quantum bits). Adding this third dimension makes the data processing much quicker and more efficient.

In large-scale industries, companies can seize advantage of these more efficient computers. Given their immense power, quantum computers can be used for simulations. In aerospace, they could help simulate the effects of using a particular aircraft component in their vehicles. Alternatively, pharmaceutical companies could utilise them to conduct molecular research and run tests on formulating new drugs, without the cost of manufacturing tester drugs and observing their impact.

Building quantum computers is very expensive, but also the conditions needed for them to function require significant funds since they only work at temperatures around absolute zero. As a result, only the major tech firms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure host quantum computers and simply offer access to quantum resources in the cloud. For example, IBM provides multinational companies the chance to run simulations.

One of their partners is Boeing, as per the reasons outlined above, but another is JPMorgan & Chase, a major banking institution, who likely make use of the encryption value offered by quantum computing in order to keep their sensitive data protected. The advanced programming creates extra layers of security that traditional measures cannot yet match. Even the world’s fastest supercomputers would take hundreds of years to crack the codes set by their quantum counterparts.

How do quantum computers pose a security threat?

Although this technology is not yet widely available, we must still be prepared for the possibility of cybercriminals gaining access to these resources and using them with bad intentions. In the same way that they can be used for encryption, they could serve as extremely powerful decryption hacking tools.

Currently the use of ransomware and deepfakes are the number one tools being used by cybercriminals, however the malicious use of quantum computers will likely become the biggest cybersecurity threat that corporations face in the near future. It is therefore crucial that we develop protective solutions quicker than the criminals create new weapons to use against us.

Here’s how can we help

At NWT, we are partnered with the best in the business to provide our clients with the most suitable cloud solutions and are on hand to be your critical friend for any quantum related queries or future plans. We are also equipped with the tools necessary to protect against quantum decryption threats.

If you have any queries about quantum computing or any of our other cybersecurity services, please leave reach out to us by clicking here.