Our current AES-based encryption standards are very secure from attacks using transistor-based computers that store information in bits. It would take an inordinate amount of time to break that encryption.
However, quantum computers, using qubits, will theoretically be able to perform the calculations necessary to break our current encryptions standards in under a day. When that happens, all of our encrypted data will be vulnerable. That means our businesses, communications channels, and banking and national security systems may be accessible.
Other nations are investing heavily in quantum computing technology while simultaneously using their signal intelligence capabilities to collect and store as much encrypted data as possible. While it’s useless to them now, it will become invaluable once they create a functioning quantum computer at a certain power level. Some estimates put the timeline for this at a decade or less.
In short, this is a problem that has to be fixed now. Two things must be done.
First, and immediately, we need to invest in and develop new encryption standards and systems, and immediately shift to using these quantum computing-resistant standards to protect our most sensitive data. This won’t be easy or cheap, but it is necessary.
Second, we must heavily invest in quantum computing technology so that we develop our own systems ahead of our geopolitical rivals.
Quantum Computing is the new frontier in making machines capable of unfathomably large numbers of calculations in short periods of time. We are not ready for what this means for our systems or security. Though our private companies are investing billions in this field, the countries that break through first will have a massive advantage. Conversely, major powers that get caught flat-footed may be vulnerable. We should maximize the opportunity and minimize our vulnerability.
Problems to be Solved
- Our current encryption standards protecting sensitive national security and banking data, among other types, will one day be decryptable in a short time period.
- Other countries are currently collecting encrypted information from us that they will one day be able to decrypt.
- Other countries are developing powerful quantum computing technology at a pace that could outstrip our own capabilities.
- Create new quantum-resistant encryption standards and systems that will be adopted ASAP to protect our sensitive information
- Invest in quantum computing so that the US leads the world in the technology
As President, I will…
- Provide the NIST and other agencies with all necessary funding to research, select, and deploy new encryption standards as soon as possible.
- Establish private sector incentives to research new encryption standards and adopt encryption that protects sensitive data.
- Support government programs developing quantum computing technology.
- Direct the Department of Defense to focus on this massive cybersecurity threat, making it a priority.