RAND publishes report on communications security in the quantum computing age

Non-profit policy think tank RAND Corporation has published a report on ‘Securing Communications in the Quantum Computing Age’, exploring the risks that future quantum computers could pose to current digital encryption systems used to secure information and communication infrastructures. The report notes that quantum computers capable of breaking encryption could jeopardise military communications, financial transactions, and the support system for the global economy. Quantum computers capable of cryptographic applications are expected to be developed in approximately 15 years, while standard protocols for post-quantum cryptography (PQC) are expected to be released within the next 5 years. Considering these estimates, RAND researchers concluded that, ‘if an adequate implementation of PQC has not taken place by the time capable quantum computers are developed, it may become impossible to ensure secure authentication and communication privacy without major disruptive changes to our infrastructures’. Noting that the threat to the security of modern communications infrastructure is urgent but manageable; the report includes several recommendations for the USA to address security threats posed by quantum computers, such as encouraging a robust adoption of PQC as soon as possible and building cyber-resilience and cryptographic agility into the digital infrastructure.