• Skip Sanzeri

Getting The Big Banks To Confront The Quantum Challenge

Consider yourself warned. An article written by Arthur Herman (a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Director of the Quantum Alliance Initiative) published last week in Forbes, presents the results from a RAND Corporation study which outlines a doomsday scenario where at single quantum attack on our U.S. banking system would cause $3.5 billion worth of damage per day. However, Herman concludes that this study neglected to consider the contagion effect which raises that figure by orders of magnitude where overall losses could reach as high as $2 trillion. Says Herman, “Our preliminary econometric research at the Hudson Institute’s Quantum Alliance Initiative indicates that the cost of a quantum computer attack on our financial system would be catastrophic—far more than a successful conventional cyberattack.” This is an existential threat to our economy.

It’s been mathematically proven that quantum computers, with enough power and using Shor’s algorithm, will crack widely used current public-key encryption. This scenario is well understood. What’s not yet clear is when quantum computers will have enough coherent qubits to do this but there is agreement that time is running out. Having access to a quantum computer with say, 4,100 error corrected logical qubits could crack versions of RSA and ECC laying bare any protection that data previously had with public-key encryption.

It’s imperative that the US government and commercial enterprises begin to assess their quantum risk and look at solutions that can be deployed in the near term. Of course, as we’ve written about before, data harvesting is yet another reason to move quickly. Data harvesting occurs when attackers steal data knowing that they will be able to decrypt the data which, in the meantime, safely and patiently live on their own servers waiting for the day when it can be decrypted.

The time to start developing your post-quantum strategy is now.

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