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May 10, 2023updated 17 May 2023 8:43am

IBM promises end-to-end quantum-safe encryption

The new suite of tools are being released alongside a roadmap to chart the route to quantum-optimised security.

By Claudia Glover

IBM has launched a suite of tools, Quantum Safe, which it says offers comprehensive end-to-end encryption that can withstand attacks from quantum computers. The capabilities have been designed to prepare organisations for the “post quantum era” the company says, where traditional algorithms are unlikely to keep businesses safe.

Quantum enhanced security suite released by IBM (Photo by Bartlomiej K. Wroblewski/Shutterstock)

It is releasing a quantum safe roadmap alongside these tools to support customers through what it is calling their “security transition”.

IBM’s End-to-End Quantum Safe Technology

The new Quantum Safe technology and its accompanying quantum roadmap were announced at IBM’s annual Think conference in Orlando, Florida.

Quantum computing is a potentially transformative technology. Once fully realised, it has the potential to change our understanding of the universe, the human brain and tackle problems like climate change. But it also comes with risk, and it is likely quantum machines will be able to easily crack encryption, creating potentially devastating quantum cyber weapons. 

The new tools are designed to protect a company against such threats, using quantum technology to enhance its security. The first tool enables organisations to “scan source and object code to locate cryptographic assets, dependencies and vulnerabilities, to build a Cryptography Bill of Materials (CBOM),” the company says.

IBM’s Quantum Safe Advisor, meanwhile, allows for the creation of “a dynamic or operational view of cryptographic inventory to guide remediation, and analyses cryptographic posture and compliance to prioritise risks.”

The third part of the package is Quantum Safe Remediator, which helps companies “deploy and test best practice based quantum safe remediation patterns to understand the potential impacts on systems and assets as they prepare to deploy quantum safe solutions,” it says.

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Ray Harishankar, IBM fellow and lead for IBM quantum safe technology, said the company recognises “the importance of comprehensively addressing the critical needs of our clients as they also consider transforming their cryptography for the quantum era.”

Harishankar added: “Our new suite of quantum-safe technologies and milestones laid out on our roadmap is designed for the continuous evolution of post-quantum security in tandem with useful quantum computing, including solutions to help industries navigate this shift effectively and easily.”

The threat posed by quantum algorithms

Governments around the world are investing heavily in quantum technology. The UK has pledged £2.5bn in funding for its National Quantum Strategy, announcing plans for research zones, skills training and a regulatory framework as part of the strategy, released in March of this year.

“Eventually new standards, benchmarking and assurance frameworks will increase in importance to facilitate technological development as use cases become more evident, helping to set requirements for interoperability and to measure performance within key sectors,” the strategy says.

The US released new quantum requirements and guidelines last year for national security systems to transition to quantum-safe algorithms by 2025, and the White House released requirements for federal agencies to submit a cryptographic inventory of systems that could be vulnerable to cryptographically relevant quantum computers.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) selected four quantum-resistant algorithms for standardisation — three of which were developed by IBM, alongside academic and industry collaborators.  

“These technologies will one day make it possible to solve complex problems that are currently impossible to solve with even the most powerful high-performance classical computer and will allow us to reach entirely new frontiers in sensing, timing, imaging and communications,” explains the UK National Quantum Strategy. 

“Quantum technologies already offer possible solutions to some of our greatest societal challenges and, perhaps most excitingly, offer future capabilities that are yet to be explored. They will improve lives, drive economic growth and create jobs, and make us more secure,” it says. 

Read more: Could quantum computing make our energy grid sustainable?

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