In a new podcast series, Entrust Engage, Product Marketing Management Director Samantha Mabey sat down in conversation with Greg Wetmore, Vice President of Software Development, to create a foundational primer of quantum computing and post-quantum cryptography (PQC). I had a listen, and here’s what this English major turned tech marketer learned about this timely topic.

#1: This introductory episode of the series is geared toward providing a basic explanation of what quantum computing is. Quantum computers, when fully realized, are expected to be far more powerful than the traditional computers we use at work, at home, on a desk, or in our hands. These computers will be able to solve some problems faster than any current or emerging supercomputers – solving problems that would require 10,000 years on a supercomputer in just a few minutes.[1]

#2: What opportunities does the advent of quantum computing bring? Quantum computers will be valuable tools for advancing fields such as biomedical research, pharmaceutical research, material science, and machine learning. Using quantum mechanics, these computers will deftly and beautifully model physical systems, advancing human understanding by leaps and bounds.

#3: What is the biggest threat post-quantum computing brings? Essentially, the end of the golden age of cryptography. Quantum computers will one day be able to break the models underlying public key cryptography, which sets the current standards for security. Post-quantum computing will challenge the established RSA models and require innovative cryptographic solutions.

#4: After explaining the imminent threat (expected to occur within the decade), the episode then explains the way forward. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has historically led the standardization effort around cryptographic algorithms. It initiated a post-quantum cryptographic algorithm competition in 2016. This competition is operating toward a 2024 deadline. Leading researchers and academics are participating and the third-round finalists were recently announced.

While “within the decade” sounds far out, businesses in all industries should be looking at this now. Transitioning to the new NIST-approved algorithms will take time. This will be exponentially harder than the previous SHA-1 to SHA-2 transition – a simple “drop and replace” change that ended up taking far longer than anyone thought. Four steps the podcast suggests organizations should be working toward are:

  1. Inventory critical systems and data.
  2. Inventory cryptographic assets.
  3. Talk to security vendors about their PQ strategy and roadmap.
  4. Engage in performance testing.

Learn details about this preparedness strategy in Entrust’s recent blog post. Want to find out more details about quantum computing and PQC? Have a listen to this episode for yourself. Interested in digging further into this topic? Learn more about Entrust’s position on Post Quantum here.

[1] New York Times, Google Claims a Quantum Breakthrough That Could Change Computing, 2019