Understanding the quantum threat, post-quantum cryptography and the upcoming NIST standards

The challenges facing information security today are greater and more complex than ever before. We all know just how severe the risks of an attack are. With so many cyber threats knocking at the door, security experts already have their plates full. Looking further ahead can feel overwhelming, but the reality is that the ‘fix it when it breaks’ approach just isn’t viable when it comes to information security. 

Those that fail to prepare for future threats must, unfortunately, prepare to fail. And when it comes to quantum, that failure could be pretty colossal. With their formidable computing power, quantum machines will represent one of the greatest threats yet posed to information security. 

At PQShield, our world-class researchers and engineers are leading contributors to the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Process. We help business leaders and technical experts understand the reality of the quantum threat, and provide the technology they need to transition from legacy to quantum-safe systems, ready to face the threats of tomorrow.

Our new white paper series contains everything you need to know to start protecting your own business, from understanding the threat to preparing for new cryptography standards. 

Quantum Computing Threat: How to Keep Ahead

It’s no secret that quantum computers pose a significant threat to information security. That can sound daunting, but it needn’t be – there are steps you can take now to protect your organization in the long-term. 

Both the NCSC (the UK National Cyber Security Centre) and the NSA (the US National Security Agency) agree that the best mitigation against this threat is post-quantum cryptography. In fact, the NIST (the US National Institute of Standards and Technology) Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Project is now in its final stages, with official standards expected to be announced within a year. 

In this white paper, experts from PQShield break down everything you need to know (and, crucially, do) to prepare for the upcoming standards and protect your organization from the quantum threat – from ensuring cryptographic agility to establishing a clear roadmap for a smooth and secure transition.

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An Overview of Post-Quantum Cryptography

Post-quantum cryptography is a relatively new field. While there’s a lot of literature out there for people close to the subject, it can be quite tricky to zoom out and understand what’s going on at a higher level. 

That’s why PQShield’s team of world-class experts have put together a white paper, introducing each of the key subfields of post-quantum cryptography – lattice-based, code-based, multivariate, hash-based and isogeny-based – and explaining how they work to protect sensitive information from quantum attacks. 

This technical overview will help you understand the different cryptographic solutions that are out there, along with their respective strengths and weaknesses, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with when it comes to choosing the solution that works best for your organization.

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Understanding the Upcoming NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standards

The NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Project began in 2016, and is now in its third and final selection round. In early 2022, NIST will announce final, official standards, and within two to three years, we can expect these to become a requirement for anyone working with the US government, and likely in other critical fields.

As it stands, there are fifteen schemes under consideration by NIST: seven finalists and eight alternates. Each differs slightly in its design and practicality. Having contributed two of the seven finalist algorithms, PQShield’s team is uniquely positioned to explain how they work.

In this white paper, you can find out more about each of the fifteen schemes, and compare key aspects such as bandwidth cost, computational cost, hardness assumptions, and more. It’s a practical view of post-quantum schemes, some of which will become standards for years to come. 

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Putting your best foot forward

Post-quantum cryptography is a complex mathematical field. It gets our team excited, but we realise there’s a lot to digest. 

Understanding the basic issues is a vital first step towards a quantum-secure future – but if you want to know more, our team is available to provide more detailed advice, tailored to your specific business needs.

The quantum threat is not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. With quantum-safe solutions ready to implement today, and just a year until the NIST standards are announced, now is the time to get ahead and protect against it.

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