The Importance of Cybersecurity and Protecting Quantum Technology Assets

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In 2020 content published by the management consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, they stated that some companies may reap gains from quantum computing within five-years. There are some others that believe that this has already begun to happen. As quantum computing evolves and becomes more and more of a valuable business tool, it will undoubtably be brighter on the radar screen of cyber attackers and espionage agents. The theft and sale or use of the high-value information resulting from quantum computing problem solving will likely become a high value commodity on the black market and dark web. A cursory view of the current-state leads one to believe the industry needs to accelerate the evolution and use of cyber security protections (products and services) specifically addressing quantum technology platforms and operations.

The security threats to the digital data and communications of quantum computing is clearly growing in terms of likelihood and risk. Knowing what companies have begun leveraging the unique powers of quantum technology has value to their competitors and industry members. The ability to know the job (Problem) submitted for processing on a quantum computer has much more value from a competitive perspective. All of the major quantum computing platform providers offering access to the technology via the cloud must well versed and up-to-date in the area of protecting systems from cyberattacks. However, that is not the case for all the business users that are likely to be submitting work to quantum computing platforms! There is another cybersecurity issue relating to quantum computing. The ever-changing level of funding coupled with the current capabilities of quantum computers influence the likelihood that they will be able to crack the current encryption capabilities. No one knows when this will occur, it is impossible to predict at this point. It will happen sooner or later. Perhaps the best approach we can take is to prepare and remain up-to-date. Organizations should become proactive and adopt a defense forward mindset. The worst thing we can do is to ignore it until it is too late!

INSIGHT: The World Economic Forum (WEF) published an article worth reading titled, “Why we need to solve our quantum security challenges.”  Here is the link –
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/quantum-computers-security-challenges/

Think about the WEF article as it applies to protecting sensitive information about the development and use of quantum computing and technology in your field or industry. With the projected value of quantum computing and technology, they will undoubtably become high-value intellectual property targets for cyberattacks and espionage. After all, cyber security is the responsibility of everyone from the board of directors through each individual employee. This is why, in mid-July 2020, I asked a couple of the cybersecurity product and services vendors the following two questions.
I have been working research involving protection of a quantum computing platform for a while now. I am interested in two things:

  1. Does your company have a product and or service to protect any of the quantum computing platforms? And if so what products and services for what platforms? 
  2. Do you have any near-term plans to create or expand cybersecurity coverage for quantum computing platforms and services?”

Some might see answering those questions a bit intrusive, since I have yet to receive any replies. You would think security companies would be very interested in defending the products and services in a new market niche that is currently projected to have a double-digit compound annual growth rate through 2025 resulting in billions in market value. A 2019 survey found that 30% of quantum computing business use cases has a ‘high’ estimated value! It was pointed out to me that there are multiple publicly traded quantum technology stocks currently on the open market. One has to wonder how they are meeting the cybersecurity expectations that accompany having investors and in a rigorously regulated investment environment.

The race to lead the quantum revolution is heated. Stealing competitors’ quantum technology proprietary information is certainly one of the likely threats. The urgency of cybersecurity for quantum technology platforms, whether cloud based or in-house, must be addressed in order to mitigate the growing risks. It also supports the investment side of this rapidly growing market. The worst thing that could happen is the threats are ignored until a highly impactful breach takes place and makes the headlines globally.