Quantum-Safe Working Group

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Modern encryption methods are composed of two parts: an algorithm that encrypts or decrypts our data with a random, secret key with our data, and a method of sharing the secret key between two parties. The encryption algorithm (AES-256) appears safe, at least for the next 20 to 30 years, based on our current knowledge of cryptographic attacks. But the methods for generating and sharing the random, secret key will no longer be safe once quantum computers are readily available. Moreover, recent revelations have shown that these same methods have been seriously weakened by flaws placed intentionally or unintentionally into the computer algorithms by the designers. Data that has been transmitted over a network using these technologies is probably secure for now, but will not remain secure for the long-term.

The Quantum-safe Security (QS2) working group has been formed to address these key generation and transmission methods and to help industry understand quantum-safe methods for protecting their networks and their data. Two quite different technologies are covered by this working group; quantum key distribution, or QKD, is a physics-based technology to securely deliver keys and post-quantum cryptography refers to mathematical algorithms that do not suffer from the same weakness vis-a-vis quantum computing that existing algorithms do. Both technologies have a place in the secure networks of the future. The working group is focused on long term data protection in this world of rising cryptanalysis capabilities. The goal of the working group is to support the quantum-safe cryptography community in development and deployment of secure networks around the world.