The majority (71%) of global organizations view quantum computers as a major security threat, a DigiCert report found. With quantum computing being such a new concept, these threats haven’t become widespread yet, but are expected to within the next three years.

DigiCert’s 2019 Post-Quantum Crypto Survey report, conducted by ReRez Research, surveyed 400 enterprise organizations in the US, Germany, and Japan. Despite the impressive capabilities quantum computing promises, 95% of respondents said they are discussing at least one tactic for protecting themselves against the dangers of quantum computing.

SEE: Quantum computing: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Quantum computers, which are still in the early stages of development, could potentially be able to process and solve massive computational problems that exceed the capabilities of current supercomputers. Mathematical problems that require days of calculation on current supercomputers could theoretically be solved instantaneously on quantum computers.

Massive algorithms are digestible for quantum computers, opening doors in a variety of spaces including navigation, seismology, pharmaceuticals, physics, machine learning, decryption, encryption, and more, reported ZDNet.

One area that is extremely exciting for those in the quantum computing realm is the prospect of quantum computers being able to crack RSA cryptography, which is commonly used for secure data transmission. However, quantum computers’ ability to crack encrypted data is precisely what makes them so dangerous, if in the wrong hands.

The dangers of quantum computing

More than half (55%) of the survey respondents said quantum computing is somewhat or extremely threatening to security today, and 71% of respondents said it would be a large threat in the future. These fears resulted in many organizations turning to post-quantum cryptography (PQC), or crypto algorithms that secure systems against quantum computer attacks, the report found. The median prediction for when post-quantum cryptography would be necessary for organizations to combat quantum computer threats was 2022, the report said, indicating organizations must prepare now.

Some 83% of respondents emphasized the importance of IT teams learning quantum-safe practices. IT organizations fear the capabilities of quantum attacks, which would make encrypted data vulnerable to hackers, but the high costs of post-quantum cryptography make it difficult to implement.

Because of high costs, organizations must allocate resources responsibly toward post-quantum cryptography. More than half (56%) of organizations are currently doing so, but other companies must follow if they want to stay protected.

The top tactics for preparing for quantum computing attacks included monitoring systems, understanding their organization’s level of crypto-agility, understanding their organization’s current risk level, and building knowledge about post-quantum cryptography, the report found.

How to plan for a quantum future

The report identified these best practices to help companies plan for a quantum future:

  1. Know your risk and establish a quantum crypto maturity model.
  2. Understand the importance of crypto-agility in your organization and establish it as a core practice.
  3. Work with leading vendors to establish digital certificate best practices and ensure they are tracking post-quantum cryptography industry progress to help you stay ahead of the curve, including updates to their products and solutions.

For more, check out Why post-quantum encryption will be critical to protect current classical computers on TechRepublic.

Also see

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto