09 Oct 2023
by Roberta Faux

Quantum resilience: Pioneering initiatives to defend tomorrow

Guest blog by Roberta Faux, US Head of Cryptography and US Field CTO at Arqit #techUKCyber2023

With tens of billions of dollars of investment, nations are racing to develop quantum capabilities. Quantum computers promise to perform certain tasks that are believed to be intractable to classical computers. This includes the ability to break modern cryptographic systems such as RSA, Diffie-Hellman and Elliptic Curve Cryptography. Given the profound impact quantum computing could have on global security, economic structures and technology landscapes, it is vital we implement protections against this threat now.

With 20 years’ experience in cryptography and cybersecurity, including working for the National Security Agency (NSA), I joined Arqit, a leader in quantum-safe encryption, to support their mission to create stronger, simpler encryption for all networked devices. The US Government has been at the forefront of the global initiative to develop quantum-resistant cryptography, recognising the potential threats posed by quantum computing to existing cryptographic systems. Through agencies like NIST, NSA and CISA the US has been spearheading efforts to raise awareness, create migration plans and standardize quantum-safe cryptography.

Arqit’s unique Symmetric Key Agreement (SKA) Platform creates quantum-safe symmetric keys through both the private and public Cloud. Arqit’s SKA platform delivers on the mandate from the White House that instructed their agencies to maintain National Security Systems to “implement symmetric-key protections…to provide additional protection for quantum-vulnerable key exchanges” by 31 December 2023. Symmetric Key Agreement is an alternative to PQAs and QKD that is deliverable today in a standards compliant fashion.

Here are four examples of how Arqit’s technology is already protecting against the quantum threat:

1. Safeguarding Our Digital Trade Frontiers from London to Singapore

As the leading partner in an international consortium, Arqit delivered the world’s first quantum-secure cross-border electronic trade document transaction, delivering a verifiable, secure, and legally recognisable solution for future digital trade transactions. Building products were transported from the UK to Singapore using electronic trade documents, which were secured using Arqit’s technology TradeSecure™. Crucially, a legal review advised that the electronic bill of lading and digital promissory note was the first to satisfy the requirements of the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023.

2. Quantum-safe VPN connectivity

Quantum-safe VPN connectivity ensures that data transmitted over the VPN remains confidential and secure even in the presence of a quantum adversary. Arqit has integrated our Symmetric Key Agreement technology with Juniper Networks® vSRX Virtual Firewall using our NetworkSecure™ application product, with a resulting solution that enables quantum-safe encrypted communications between customer locations, keeping data safe both at rest and in transit. Our technology is also integrated into Fortinet’s FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls.

3.  Preparing Drones for the Quantum Era

In July 2022, Arqit and BlueBear (a Saab Company), a pioneering supplier of unmanned and autonomous systems for defence and civil customers, successfully demonstrated a quantum-safe communication channel to secure data transmissions on drones. This was the first time C4ISR quantum safe communications with rotating symmetric keys has been enabled using a lightweight software protocol for small drones. This addresses the imminent threats posed by emerging quantum computing while catering to the unique requirements of drones. As drones continue to be used in critical applications, such as military surveillance, delivery of medical supplies, infrastructure inspection, and more, Arqit is ensuring secure communication to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, or malicious interference.

4.  Future-Proofing the UK: The Push for 5G Security and Reliability

Arqit’s Symmetric Key Agreement Platform underpinned the Secure 5G project, a new cutting-edge technology that will allow industries to deploy their own private, flexible and secure 5G networks across their business areas. The flexibility and reconstruction of the system, coupled with processing power that is powerful enough to run resource intensive apps, will allow for further developments in hardware and services by the wider UK telecoms supply chain. Technology models for 5G and IoT are evolving rapidly but the edge cannot be secure without a new approach to encryption – Arqit delivers that.

Businesses need to urgently upgrade their encryption to protect their data from the quantum threat. With our groundbreaking technology, Arqit are delivering stronger, simpler encryption today.

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Roberta Faux

Roberta Faux

US Head of Cryptography and US Field CTO, Arqit