Cybersecurity Speaker Series: Preparing for Post-Quantum

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FORT MEADE, Md. – Cryptography is our first and last line of defense for the nation’s most sensitive systems. The quantum threat is real and it is imperative to modernize to protect these systems now.

In the next video in the Cybersecurity Speaker Series released today, NSA’s Senior Cryptographic Authority, Dr. Adrian Stanger, and NSA’s Cryptographic Solutions Technical Director, Dr. William J. Layton, sat down with NSA’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center Chief of Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Defense, Bailey Bickley, to discuss preparing for Post-Quantum.

“In theory if you make one of these [Quantum Computers], it can solve some math problems regular computers can’t,” said Layton.  “If you were to build a very large scale one that was very reliable, that’s still some distance in the future, it could break an enormous share of all the cryptography we use in the government at home or to run the internet. Essentially the foundation of security for a lot of the world would be shaken if we didn’t do anything about that.”

Through the Cybersecurity Speaker Series, the center highlights NSA experts to share their insights, lessons, and contributions of their work in cybersecurity. 

Cyber is an ever-changing landscape, and part of NSA’s mission is to look out to the horizon at new technologies that will become the next generation of threats. Quantum computing will be a game changer and will introduce new and advanced threats. A "Cryptographically Relevant" Quantum Computer has the potential to break existing public key crypto according to Stanger.

 “When we talk about cryptography here, we are not just talking about breaking encryption,” said Stanger, “but also the ability to masquerade as somebody to break authentication which has a bigger and more profound effects as that allows an adversary access to systems.”

“The real challenge is for those who are managing systems who are custom building things,” said Layton. “For all those things in the world we forget to update or have been carefully built and rarely touched getting through and finding all those places that need to be fixed over the next few years is really the big challenge we are facing.”

We have to move out now and plan for the future. Once the first cryptographically relevant quantum computer boots up, any system not upgraded to Quantum Resistant cryptography will be susceptible to attack.

“The take away is “don’t panic!” But plan and prepare now,” said Bickley.

View the latest Speaker Series installment below, along with the complete series on YouTube. Follow us on Twitter/X @NSACyber and on the CCC LinkedIn showcase page to track future releases.
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