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Progress in quantum computing poses potential security risk in Taiwan

Experts urge governments to migrate to post-quantum cryptography to protect vital assets, privacy

Prof. Dr. Tanja Lange is speaking with QSMC Director Dr. Matthias J. Kannwischer during the talk.

2023/10/16 11:19 By Sean Scanlan, Taiwan News, Staff Reporter

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Quantum computers will not only help solve large-scale problems in weather prediction and drug development but also put current security and cryptography systems at risk, Eindhoven University of Technology Professor Dr. Tanja Lange said in a recent online discussion.

Speaking with Quantum Safe Migration Center Director Dr. Matthias J. Kannwischer, Lange said, “Cryptography permits us to communicate privately. If we lose this ability due to quantum computing, there will be more spying, modifying data, and potentially manipulating conversations.”

Her appearance was the first in a series of talks aimed at increasing cybersecurity awareness.

Unbeknownst to many, cryptography runs beneath the hood of many apps and web browsers, allowing messages to remain private, ensuring web surfing is safe, and protecting both online banking and ATM transactions. Losing cryptographic protection will alter many of the data transactions taken for granted in modern, everyday life.

While quantum computing remains in its infancy—experts predict it will take a decade for the earliest quantum computers to do advanced calculations that break cryptography, which is the biggest threat. At the moment, hackers and state-sponsored actors actively collect data for future use.

“In case you don’t think someone is storing your data, I can tell you that there’s probably more than one group doing this. They may find you 'interesting' simply because you watched a video about cryptography. After saving your data, they can later use their quantum computer to read your messages and see what you did,” Lange said.

Post-Quantum Cryptography

Quantum computers will be so powerful that they will be able to break all current public-key cryptography. Fortunately, cryptographers have predicted this threat and began developing systems for Post-Quantum Cryptography with the first events dating back to 2006, according to Lange.

Approaches to designing systems that withstand attacks by quantum computers are based on five major categories: code-based, hash-based, isogeny-based, lattice-based, and multivariate-quadratic.

To enhance security before the arrival of quantum computing, a number of security companies are engaged in post-quantum cryptography migration to secure database systems that cannot be hacked or decrypted. Also, nations are putting forward standards and licensing to ensure optimal cybersecurity.

The U.S. has taken the lead, with the government mandating a timeline of 2035 for businesses working with the government to implement post-quantum security measures published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Is Taiwan listening?

In Europe, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) makes similar recommendations, though cybersecurity decisions are still the authority of individual countries, Lange said. “France is working on a certification system for Post-Quantum Cryptography, and the government is reminding companies to do something about cybersecurity.”

“If anybody from the Taiwanese government is listening, I hope Taiwan takes inspiration from the Europeans who are implementing a certification system and utilizing hybrid Post-Quantum security standards," Lange said. "Taiwan should also take inspiration from the Americans regarding timelines, guidance, and other regulations," she added.

As a leading producer of semiconductors and PCs, Taiwan stands in a critical position in the global IT supply chain. Ensuring post-quantum cryptography can further solidify and defend this role.

“I have had the pleasure to collaborate with Taiwanese colleagues for many years and have been impressed with the students at National Taiwan University, who were very smart and motivated and conducted high-quality research. What I can say to Taiwan to encourage more collaborations is to organize more international cryptography conferences and invite researchers for research visits and talks. Taiwan has a lot to offer in this field," Lange said.


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