PQShield’s 2020 year in review…

Author: Dr Ali El Kaafarani
Topic: Comment, Events, News

It’s nearly that time of year again – and what a year it has been. In 2020, we made significant headway towards our founding mission to define the next generation of public-key cryptography standards and protect all sensitive digital information from quantum computers.

And not a moment too soon. This year, the pace of quantum computer innovation kicked up a notch, bringing us ever closer to the day when we will have a full-scale, multi-purpose quantum computer. 

Both nation-states and tech companies signalled their continuing interest in quantum computing, large new players entered the increasingly crowded field, and we continued to see narrow, novel use-cases being demonstrated on rudimentary quantum computers. 

Adding it all up – it looks more likely than ever as we leave behind the first year of this decade that quantum computers will be among us as we enter the last. 

It was an equally eventful year for PQShield, and as the holiday season beckons, we thought we would look back at some of the things that defined the year for us to welcome in the New Year…

Two third-round finalists in the NIST PQC project

Four years after NIST put out a call to submit post-quantum algorithms that could resist the onslaught of tomorrow’s quantum computers, it announced the seven third-round finalists in July. We were delighted to have two algorithms developed by PQShield researchers represented among the finalists. 

NTRU and Falcon represent the future of digital security itself and we are looking forward to the third phase of evaluation and review – this time next year we may have more good news to share on this front!

PQShield secures £5.5m seed funding 

Of course, we couldn’t go without mentioning our seed financing and public debut in the middle of the year. We were delighted to partner with leading investors like Kindred Capital, OSI and Crane, as well as world-class business angels to bring cutting-edge cryptography solutions – the culmination of years of research – out of the lab and into today’s businesses. 

The messages of support we received from friends, family, ex-colleagues and businesses in the aftermath of the announcement were deeply appreciated and definitely rank as one of the best moments for PQShield this year.

Our people 

In 2020, we grew our team from top-to-bottom, and added three more cryptography experts to our already world-class team of cryptography researchers and engineers. 

The team enjoyed participating in a range of events this year, including CogX, TNW20, NIST PQC workshop, ICMC2020, Eurocrypt2020, DAC2020, ASHES 2020, Asiacrypt, PKC, and many more. It’s always a pleasure to engage with the brightest minds in the industry and discuss the latest challenges and innovations facing businesses now and in the future. 

These are just a few of the many accomplishments, moments and things the team has accomplished in 2020. At PQShield, we’re looking forward to what 2021 brings! 

To the PQShield family: I am hugely grateful for and amazed by all the generous and high-calibre work that you have done so far – it’s such a great pleasure to work with you and learn from you on a daily basis. Looking back at 2020, the amazing progress that we’ve made wouldn’t have been possible without your professionalism, your tenacity, and your endless desire to learn, progress, and tackle any challenges. We will keep learning and getting better, and PQShield’s values will be our lighthouse along the way. We will always embrace complexity, and try to enable simplicity; logic will always win, and we’ll mine the past and think openly to build a more secure future, together, for everyone.

Ali El Kaafarani | CEO and Founder | PQShield Ltd

Quantum computers: How to prepare for this great threat to information security (November 6 - Help Net Security): www.helpnetsecurity.com/2020/11/06/quantum-computers-threat/
PQC Standardization Process: Third Round Candidate Announcement (July 22 - NIST): csrc.nist.gov/news/2020/pqc-third-round-candidate-announcement
Europe leads on post-quantum encryption technology (July 27 - EENews Europe): www.eenewseurope.com/news/europe-leads-post-quantum-encryption-technology
PQShield raises $7M for quantum-ready cryptographic security solutions (July 8 - TechCrunch): techcrunch.com/2020/07/08/pqshield-raises-7m-for-quantum-ready-cryptographic-security-solutions/
PQShield raises £5.5m for effort to secure computers against quantum threat (December 10 - Sifted): sifted.eu/articles/pqshield-quantum-cryptography/