21 Apr 2022 3 min read

Banks Need to Act Now to Ensure Post-Quantum Cybersecurity

Skip Sanzeri, Founder and COO of QuSecure, Inc. had this article published on Security Today’s website. Click here to read the full article.

The Financial Services Industry has long been a lucrative playground for cyber thieves. These days, the push toward a digital banking economy has opened financial institutions to an overwhelming number of new and sophisticated cyberattacks. The list of cyberattacks on banks just in 2021 is long, including Flagstar Bank, the European Banking Authority, New Zealand’s central bank, and more. According to a Trend Micro report, banks experienced a 1,318 percent year-on-year increase in ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021.

To make things worse, quantum computers will be used to disrupt service to critical financial cyber-systems, which could have devasting effects on the American economy. A study conducted by Arthur Herman at the Hudson Institute revealed that an attack from a quantum computer that disrupts any of the five largest financial institutions’ access to the Fedwire Funds Service could cost up to nearly $2 Trillion. It is imperative that banks and financial services institutions take measures to protect themselves and the American economy from these future cyberattacks.

The issue has become so pervasive that during a congressional hearing last year, CEOs from six of the largest U.S. banks testified that cybersecurity is the most significant risk for their industry. The dramatic increase in cyberattacks over the past few years has prompted President Biden, NIST, and the FBI to address growing concerns over our nation’s cybersecurity. In addition, in January the White House issued a Memorandum on Improving the Cybersecurity of National Security, which outlines near term standards (including Post-Quantum Cybersecurity (PQC mandates) for National Security Systems (NSS) that are equivalent to or exceed existing cybersecurity requirements.

The challenge of modernizing cybersecurity is exacerbated by the rapid development of quantum computers and the threat of Cryptographically Relevant Quantum Computers (CRQC) which will be capable of breaking public-key encryption. Public key encryption secures 90 percent of all global encrypted data. It is used by nearly every U.S. financial institution to secure transactions, client data, online payments, highly valuable information, and IP. Using a quantum algorithm, known as Shor’s algorithm, CRQCs will be able to easily factor large prime numbers which form the basis of public-key encryption. Shor’s algorithm will be used via a quantum computer to break public-key encryption and access the contents of the encrypted data at financial institutions in the coming years.

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