Quantum-resistant Encryption: Why You Urgently Need it | Hacker Noon

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Founder and CEO of Nature Torch, Entrepreneur, Tech Enthusiast, Digital Marketer, and SEO.

The Second World War brought to the front burner the world of espionage, which is the precursor of cybersecurity, as is seen in the modern world. Technological advancements such as the quantum computer necessitate that we take the war against cybercrimes to another level. 

Cybersecurity did not start with the Second World War since humans are known to have used codes and ciphers to keep information safe for years. It’s even on record that Julius Caesar popularized a cipher that was eventually named after him.

We can, however, safely conclude that the men and women working at Bletchley Park during the Second World War were the progenitors of cyber, a long time before the coming of age of what we now refer to as modern cybersecurity practices.

The intelligence and defense sectors have contributed greatly to the innovations we have seen in cybersecurity. The developments were not accidental, they were due to the need to uncover as well as keep sensitive intelligence safe. 

Your organization must guard against cyber threats from different sources such as organized crime groups, nation-state hackers, and individual hackers. A lot of organizations recourse to encryption to defend themselves. 

There is no doubt that people have been using ciphers for hundreds of years in varying forms. Examples of ciphers that have been in use include non-standard hieroglyphs in the walls of tombs built in Ancient Egypt almost 4,000 years and substitution ciphers developed 1,200 years ago by Arab mathematician Al-Kindi. 

The need to keep phone conversations secure during the Cold War era, necessitated by the great surge in electronic communications, brought about unprecedented transformations in ciphers and encryption technology. The fallout from this is that many organizations in the modern world depend on encryption in the use of their mobile devices, enterprises network, and cloud services. 

The reason for this is not far-fetched. Mobile devices and digital communications have taken a central role in the way and manner organizations carry on their transactions with third parties and customers around the globe. 

The focus on cybersecurity ensures that conversations remain private while enabling fast and secure communication. The use of encryption has penetrated all sectors of the business world, such as the medical data in healthcare, customer information in banking, and a lot more. 

It’s interesting to note that the knowledge on how to secure communication and data from the intelligence community’s experience in developing advanced solutions is finally transcending every sector of the industry and not left for tech and IT only. 

The building block

The fact that our communications are secure today, derive from the technological works done initially by the intelligence community. They made use of randomness to disguise messages. 

Even if the technology we use today has shifted significantly from what they did, the fundamentals of encryption, whereby long strings of random characters are used – letters and numbers – have not changed appreciably over the past 100 years. 

Letter tiles were used for making encryption keys and one-time pads to keep British wartime messages secure. In the same way today, we depend on some randomness encryption systems to keep our communications secure.

Another example is that of Cloudflare that uses readings from devices such as the chaotic pendulum and a wall of lava lamps to make long strings of random numbers. These random numbers enable Cloudflare to create keys that encrypt the traffic that flows through their network.

Coping with threats from breakthroughs

Knowing fully well that modern cybersecurity is derived from the past, we must also consider how emerging technologies can create serious issues for the cybersecurity world. One source of great concern is the quantum computer that can revolutionize how we use technology.

There is no doubt that the way quantum computers process information, which is quite different from that of traditional computers, could significantly weaken our cyber defenses. While the quantum computer is a technological breakthrough that we should roundly applaud, it may end  up leaving a “bitter taste on the palate.” 

Quantum computers are based on Shor’s algorithm and are likely to be more effective than traditional computers at breaking Rivest–Shamir–Adleman (RSA) and elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC)-based encryption. These two are currently the most common types of encryption. 

This is the basis for the urgency in the need for quantum-resistant encryption. Since technology keeps on advancing, a case such as quantum computing is a pointer to you that there is every need to be on your toes. 

Threats will keep on evolving since innovations are coming up. The fact that cybercrime is set to cost businesses over $2tn this year alone is an indicator of the work you need to do to be safe. 

Bad characters such as organized cybercriminals and nation-state attackers will capitalize on your unpreparedness to exploit the latest and greatest tech, knowing fully well that any innovation portends a threat. They don’t have restrictions as is seen in corporations and are quicker at harnessing new technologies for evil acts than you can think for a progressive step.

The way forward

The spending by the cybersecurity industry has been estimated to be $248 billion by 2026, this is a sign that the sector is not relaxing and you shouldn’t. You must leverage technological advancements to grow your cybersecurity.

You don’t only depend on the past work of the intelligence sector, you should be abreast of the latest developments to remain safe from cybercriminals and also invest wisely. Cybersecurity has been an important part of our lives for a long time, the effort at keeping data safe did not just start, and cannot just stop, since you cannot just wish cybercrimes away.

Quantum-resistant encryption is just one of the safety measures that can be integrated. There are certainly going to be more threats in the future proceeding from technological innovations. 

You must endeavor to learn as much as you can from other sectors, with the mindset of sharing best practices that will ensure robust defenses.

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Founder and CEO of Nature Torch, Entrepreneur, Tech Enthusiast, Digital Marketer, and SEO.

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