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RAND on Quantum Computing: Quantum Computers to Arrive by 2033

April 10, 2020

The RAND organisation writes in their latest report about Quantum Computing some future case studies of QC being used to hack peoples personal details and financial records. Security 2040 discusses the security implications of Quantum Computing. The report explores the risks of quantum-computing alongside the work that could prevent loss of private data.

“When we use the internet, we assume that all of our communications are secure and guarded from an attacker reading or seeing them” 

 Michael Vermeer, RAND SCIENTIST

If you haven’t heard of PQC, you will now, PQC or Post Quantum Cryptography is the way that these case studies of our bank accounts being emptied and personal data exposed are prevented. That is to make sure our Cryptographic protocols can survive attacks from Quantum Computers of the future. RAND are pushing on the effort to begin PQC as soon as possible. The longer that PQC is not implemented, the more of today’s encrypted information is at risk of being exposed by Quantum Computers in the future. Some of the targets of QC have been highlighted by RAND as: Emails, Credit card, Medical history or genetic information, Juvenile criminal records, Executive communications, Drug trial data, Intellectual property, Information transmitted between cloud data centres amongst many others.

Quantum Computing is still a few years away: thirteen on average

How will the major tech companies respond to the threat of Quantum Computing. Amazon and Google are actively involved (esp Google) in developing Quantum Computing.

The working group estimated when QC would be developed and when a standard framework for PQC may come into being. The date given on average was 2033. That means we have 13 years to work this all out. But if you look at the massive inward investment in Quantum Computing by the tech giants whose entire business depends on the ability to secure their business against nefarious activity we can see that it could be anyone’s guess if and when something disruptive happens to accelerate that process.

The RAND team asked the working group to estimate when advanced quantum computers might be developed, when a standardised PQC security suite might be implemented, and whether these two timelines might overlap. On average, the experts suggested 2033 for the development of a Cryptographic relevant quantum computer. Some of course chose “never” as their response and therefore a weighted average was used.

“…we need to push for the adoption of post-quantum cryptography as early as possible,”

 Evan Peet, RAND economist  

You can read more about the report from RAND here.

Nuclear Fusion always seems 30 years away. Will Quantum Computers prove to be the same? Always in the future? RAND say now is the time to begin efforts for Post Quantum Cryptography.

The RAND organisation

The RAND Corporation is am eponymous organisation that has its aim to produce solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. The RAND Corporation (“Research ANDevelopment”) is an was created in 1948 by Douglas Aircraft Company to offer research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces. RAND is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest.