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NSA, NIST, NCSC Endorse Post-Quantum Cryptography Over QKD

Updated: Jan 7


The need for resilient cybersecurity has never been more urgent, especially with the recent shift to remote work, increasing ransomware attacks, and the looming threat of cyber warfare and quantum computers. Government agencies in the US and UK have recognized that quantum computers will soon be powerful enough to break current cryptography and have been researching and developing potential solutions to the quantum threat.

One emerging technology that has garnered attention over recent years is quantum key distribution (QKD), a quantum encryption technology wrongly believed to be “unhackable.” QKD advocates claim that this technology is ultra-secure and provides an antidote to the threat of quantum computing attacks. The technology uses photonic channels (fiber optics) to send unique encryption keys generated utilizing the quantum properties of photons. While QKD keys are indeed quite secure due to their quantum properties, QKD still faces a variety of logistical and security problems.

One of the fundamental issues plaguing QKD is the amount of specialized hardware required to secure a connection between two points. Hooking up two endpoints to a photonic channel is expensive, time consuming, and impractical. Additionally, QKD has been proven to be significantly less effective over long distances, which limits its potential. Most importantly, QKD is not entirely secure and certainly not quantum secure. The keys used in QKD are strong, but the channel that delivers these keys is still vulnerable to classical attacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks as well as quantum attacks. For all these reasons, the NSA, NIST, and the UK-based National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC) have stated that they do not endorse QKD as an effective solution for quantum cybersecurity.

QKD may be effective for quantum encryption, but quantum cybersecurity must be approached holistically to be effective against future quantum attacks. Instead, the NSA, NIST, and NCSC have endorsed post-quantum cryptography as the preferred solution for quantum cybersecurity. Post-quantum cryptography utilizes algorithms believed to be unbreakable by quantum computers, and these post-quantum algorithms can be more widely deployed than QKD. Post-quantum companies such as QuSecure will play a pivotal role in the global transition toward quantum cybersecurity.

Reference Article: https://www.itpro.co.uk/security/encryption/361581/ncsc-telecoms-quantum-key-distribution  

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