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Thales enters coalition to tackle cyberthreats posed by quantum computing

The RESQUE consortium will spend the next three years on a solution to protect communications, networks and infrastructure from quantum-led cyberattacks.

By Lauren Hurrell

Thales has joined five other French organisations to form a coalition developing solutions to protect against quantum-powered cyberattacks. The RESQUE consortium will spend the next three years developing solutions to protect communications, infrastructure and business and local government networks.

The French multinational will serve as the RESQUE consortium’s coordinator.  The group also includes SMEs TheGreenBow and CryptoExperts; the start-up CryptoNext Security; the French security agency ANSSI; and Inria, the French national research institute for digital science and tech.

The consortium is funded by the French government as part of the France 2030 investment plan, and the European Union’s (EU) Next Generation EU scheme under the France Relance recovery programme. An additional €6 million of investment comes from Bpifrance.

Thales already invests €4 billion a year in R&D, with growing focus in quantum technologies, 6G, Edge computing and cybersecurity. (Photo by Bartlomiej K. Wroblewski via Shutterstock)

Preparing for quantum computing’s big break

The formation of RESQUE comes as fears that quantum technology’s capability to break encryption algorithms at hitherto unprecedented scale and speed could lead to increasingly complex cyberattacks on sensitive data.

While quantum computers still lack enough processing powers to break cryptographic algorithms, cryptographers are preparing for what is known as “Q-Day”, when quantum computing will be powerful and accessible enough to be used to unleash computing attacks that involve breaking existing algorithms. Cryptographers are making headway to design new algorithms that will be able to fend off any attacks conducted by quantum computers, ensuring the protection of sensitive data on a national and global level.

RESQUE’s work will involve developing a post-quantum cryptography solution. Post-quantum cryptography is the creation of cryptographic algorithms that are considered secure against cryptanalytic attacks by quantum computers.

Planning ahead for quantum computing threat resistance

The project will focus on two use cases: developing a hybrid post-quantum virtual private network to provide user access to information systems that is safe, simple and quantum resistant; and a high-performance post-quantum hardware security module to secure whole systems and for integration with other products.

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Thales already invests €4 billion a year in R&D, with growing focus in quantum technologies, 6G, Edge computing and cybersecurity.

TheGreenBow focuses on software development for secure communication systems. CryptoExperts helps the security industry benefit from the latest available advances in cryptography to improve their products and services. CryptoNext Security is a start-up software vendor specialising in quantum computer-resistant cryptography, with a range of integration tools and post-quantum application plugins to support end-user businesses and integrators in their post-quantum migration roadmap for long-term efficiency.

ANSSI acts as France’s national authority on cybersecurity and cyberdefence which reports to the Secretary General for Defence and National Security (SGDSN) under the authority of the Prime Minister. Inria, France’s national research institute, focuses on technological innovation and entrepreneurial risk. The technological institute aims to support the diversity of innovation pathways, including open-source software publishing and creating tech start-ups.

A collaboration of skills to keep quantum controlled

Thales will guide on algorithm integration and provide an overview of the applications ecosystem, while TheGreenBow’s expertise in software development and VPN can be combined with CryptExperts and CryptoNext Security to develop encryption and standard and advanced algorithmic cryptography. ANSSI will provide the research framework and assess validity criteria surrounding the use cases, while Inria’s fundamental research into post-cryptography will plug gaps and benefit all partners.

Read more: French state cyberattack: Anonymous Sudan claims responsibility

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