IBM develops post-quantum cloud services and tech

At the Second Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Conference organized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), IBM took a major step towards maintaining the highest level of security of its client’s data and privacy in the future from fault-tolerant quantum computers with the demonstration of the world’s first quantum computing safe tape drive prototype.

Key points:

  • New quantum risk assessment and subscription services available to clients
  • IBM Cloud will begin to provide quantum-safe cryptography services on the public cloud in 2020
  • IBM Research demonstrates world’s first quantum computing safe tape drive prototype
  • IBM donates quantum-safe cryptographic algorithms to open source community

IBM is announcing that it will begin to provide quantum-safe cryptography services on the IBM public cloud in 2020 and is now offering a Quantum Risk Assessment from IBM Security to help customers assess their risk in the quantum world. Additionally, IBM cryptographers have prototyped the world’s first quantum computing safe enterprise class tape, an important step before commercialization.

IBM is also committed to making quantum-safe algorithms available through the open source community. As an industry, we can only become secure if new quantum-safe algorithms are tested, interoperable and easily consumable in common security standards. To this end, IBM is donating algorithms and support to a number of open source projects such as

Preparing cybersecurity for a quantum world

Quantum computing is an emerging form of technology that takes advantage of quantum mechanical phenomena to solve certain types of problems that are effectively impossible to solve on classical computers. As quantum systems become more powerful, they will also impact information security and will create new opportunities for improving security for data both on-premises and in the cloud.

At the current rate of progress in quantum computing, it is expected that data protected by the asymmetric encryption methods used today may become insecure within the next 10-30 years. While years away, data can be harvested today, stored and decrypted in the future with a powerful enough quantum computer. While the industry is still finalizing post-quantum cryptography standards, businesses and other organizations can start preparing today.

“In order to prepare for the impact that quantum computers are expected to have on data security, IBM Research has been developing cryptographic algorithms that are designed to be resistant to the potential security concerns posed by quantum computers,” said Vadim Lyubashevsky, cryptographer, IBM Research, in a statement. “Our jointly developed quantum-safe algorithms, part of a lattice cryptography suite called CRYSTALS, are based on the hardness of mathematical problems that have been studied since the 1980’s and have not succumbed to any algorithmic attacks, either classical or quantum. This is why we have made our algorithms open source and have submitted them to NIST for standardization.”

IBM has actively supported NIST on its journey to standardize quantum safe cryptography with preparatory input, algorithm submissions, analysis of submitted algorithms and feedback to the process. The company will continue to share lessons learned at it migrates IBM’s own systems and services to become quantum-safe based on the NIST standards, which are expected to be available between 2022-2024.

CRYSTALS (Cryptographic Suite for Algebraic Lattices) is developed jointly in collaboration with several academic and commercial partners including ENS Lyon, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica and Radboud University. It’s based on two quantum resistant cryptographic primitives – Kyber, a secure key encapsulation mechanism, and Dilithium, a secure digital signature algorithm. CRYSTALS has been donated to, to further develop open standards.

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