Of all the dangers that threaten technological advances and a better society for ourselves in the future, one crucial point is how cryptography will pan out. With humanity relying much more on technology in our ever-connected world, this is something we have to take seriously. The advent of quantum computers hasn’t helped the situation, though the very problem itself could really be the solution: quantum-safe cryptography.
We’ve all heard on the news how this company or that will have a fully-operational quantum computer by mid-decade, and though the news is exciting enough, it is also a chance to prepare for the potential dangers to the security of electronic communications.
According to Jeremy O’Brien— CEO of quantum computing (QC) startup PsiQuantum that recently raised $150m of new capital, bringing the total raised at $215 million in venture capital funding to date — PsiQuantum will have an “ultra-powerful commercial computer based on photonics” by the middle of this decade.
Now, if what he says is true, and we do have the capabilities to build one, don’t you think we better start getting ready now?
“We’re now at a point where we have solved the critical roadblocks on the path to building a quantum computer with a million qubits, the scale required for all known useful commercial applications.”
— Jeremy O’Brien, CEO of PsiQuantum
TQD does, that’s for sure.
And so does a host of other companies that believe the time to prepare was yesterday, rather than in five or ten years’ time. For, as the old adage goes, prevention is always better than a cure.
Yet another to add is Paris-based startup CryptoNext Security, a spin-off from Inria Paris and Sorbonne University founded in 2019 by Ludovic Perret and Jean-Charles Faugère. Formerly called PQAT (Post Quantum Advanced Technologies), CryptoNext’s mission is to
“deploy the next generation of cryptographic standards that will make your IT infrastructures resilient against quantum computers.”
An impressive feat is the startup’s founders receiving the Atos & Joseph Fourier Prize in 2018 in quantum computation for their research in post-quantum cryptography, the practical deployment of post-quantum cryptography and the startup’s contribution to the standardization of post-quantum cryptography.
“Many experts believe that there is a non-negligible probability that a large-scale quantum computer could be available in less than a decade. The Y2Q, Years to Quantum, is a countdown that refers to the number of years before when a large quantum computer will be available,” says CryptoNext Solutions.
And with that, the pair have come up with the CryptoNext Quantum-Safe Library, a cryptographic library that provides basic cryptographic public-key functionalities in:
— Quantum-safe signature
— Quantum-safe key-exchange (more precisely, Key Encapsulation Mechanism)
Written in C, the library is “easy to integrate into security protocols or security products and offers a selection of the most promising quantum-safe algorithms selected at IETF and at the second stage the NIST post-quantum standardization process.”
The first cofounder of Cryptonext Security is CEO Ludovic Perret, a former associate professor in the computer science lab (LIP6) at Sorbonne University. With more than a decade working in post-quantum cryptography, he is the co-author of several submissions to the on-going NIST post-quantum standardization process and is co-chair of the Quantum-Safe Security working group of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), a member of the quantum-safe TC Cyber working-group of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and invited expert at the ITU-T SG-17.
A former research director at INRIA and leader of a joint team between Inria Paris and Sorbonne University, Jean-Charles Faugère is the startup’s other cofounder and CryptoNext’s CTO. A pioneer in quantum-safe cryptography, Faugère is famous for the development of efficient algorithms and high-performance software that can assess the security of various quantum-safe cryptosystems. Like his fellow CryptoNext cofounder Perret, Faugère is the co-author of a number of papers on the on-going NIST post-quantum standardization process.
With the Y2Q threat a clear and present danger to CryptoNext and other quantum encryption evangelists, the startup’s novel solution to aid clients “transition to quantum-safe cryptography” is a good one, and an IP that will — depending on quantum’s path and the dangers Y2Q poses — place the startup ahead of the pack.