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Quantum computing: Why the race is on?

The global quantum computing market was estimated to account for US$ 3.98 billion in 2019. It is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of ~25% from 2019 to 2030 (Source: OpenPR).


Given the successes of normal devices, why even try?


The potential payoff is enormous. White House alongside other governments are planning to increase the spending on artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technologies (Source: Unite.ai). Quantum computers could be used to give AI algorithms trillions of more data points, drastically enhancing utility and accuracy. One of the plans is to develop a nationwide quantum internet, which would allow the secure transmission of sensitive information relating to national security. There is an intensive program of digital upskilling and reskilling happening at military level globally (Source: GovInsider). In my conversations with Industry Security Experts it is being suggested that quantum-ready Security Services Operations will benefit from skills such as business acumen, soft skills, coding not only to achieve higher level of automation and optimization of machine learning (ML) and AI solutions, but also to create quantum algorithms (Source: Follow us on Quantum Cybersecurity Skills for SOC optimization).


Image source: Orange


Quantum computers are able to encode voluminous amounts of data into readable information that are not possible with classical computers. Quantum technologies can deliver predictive analytics, although, quantum rules are still very fragile and hardware imperfections may lead to noise and errors in the final answers which are being looked at by the researches to rectify (Source: Deixis Magazine). With quantum, it is about lowering the unit price. Insights on supply chain at micro level, eg. tracking the life cycle of any spare part or the food we are going to consume. It's achieved by tracking the data and applying algorithm to it which helps to cut the maintenance costs and increase competitiveness. These super-powerful machines offer huge potential to almost every industry, from drug development to electric-vehicle battery design. (Source: Business News). Quantum technology is also being used to classify, manage and protect video and unstructured data across its lifecycle (Source: SportsVideo.org).


There is a growing amount of collaborations between the industry and universities. Those projects are focused on quantum computing’s potential to model continuous variables to run optimization use cases that are critical to specific business operations. Existing cloud services platforms provide access to unique algorithms that enable large enterprises and public-sector organizations to start building quantum skills and prepare for the potential disruption that quantum computing will bring to the market in the near future (Source: EnterpriseTalk).


Quantum computers are also seen as a threat. With exponentially higher processing power, quantum computers could not only cause disruption to cryptography, but also unlock various sorts of secrets starting from smart home appliances to sophisticated national security systems (NSS), which protect classified or other sensitive data. With quantum computing adoption those systems would be susceptible to attack (Source: FederalNewsNetwork). The other risk areas posed by quantum computers include personal financial or health records, confidential research projects, intellectual property, classified government intelligence, cause interruption of the strong codes in widespread use around the internet (Source: Analytics Insight). It's why US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is racing to standardize new post-quantum cryptographic solutions, so businesses can get a trusted safety net in place before the threat materializes.


Image source: Airbus


Within an industry like aviation, a quantum-empowered hacker would have the ability to forge the signature of a software update, push that update to a specific engine part, and then use that to alter the operations of the aircraft. Medical devices like pacemakers would be vulnerable to the same kind of attack, as would connected cars whose software is regularly updated from the cloud (Source: Helpnetsecurity).


While commercial applications of quantum computing are years away, to help the industry accelerate the pathway to quantum advantage and perform like they have a team of experts, Q-CTRL, for example, offers BOULDER OPAL, a software building solution (Source: Q-CTRL). In the meantime Qiskit lets developers conduct explorations on IBM's Quantum Experience using a Python interface (Source: Qiskit.org). There are number of alternative solutions available today.


Although some researchers suggest that an error-resistant quantum computer is decades away, the other groups of quantum computing researchers are confident that their quantum 'verification protocol' that enables quantum calculations to be simulated and verified on a classical computer will help to speed up the process (Source: ZDnet).


After reading hundreds of articles and books on quantum computing, I personally see an analogy of quantum mechanics in drug discovery being similarly adopted for Threat Modelling, Threat Intelligence, Cyber Incident Planning, predictive analytics of security posture and other useful business cases to help create a cyber resilient future.




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Written by Ema Rimeike