Future Proofing the World Against Quantum Computing Threats

Ray Garnie, Senior Vice-President, Sales, DigiCert

The day when computers will be able to break any encryption is coming sooner than expected. Within a few years, quantum computers would be able to crack the present encryption technology. A significant portion of the sensitive data will become highly vulnerable in the not-so-distant future. And, there will be nothing anyone can do about it if measures are not put in place in time.

Quantum computing can be a major source of concern on the cyber security front. Data security and privacy is already giving sleepless nights to organizations across the world. In the rapidly evolving threat landscape, the advent of quantum computing can queer the pitch for infosec professionals. Security experts are scrambling to find novel ways to protect the data before it gets too late.

“It is on the top of everyone’s mind. The cryptography or encryption technology being used today is quite top of the class. Even the most advanced computer of the world today will take hundreds of years to crack it. However, when a post quantum computer becomes available, it will be matter of days, hours or even seconds to crack any encryption on earth,” says Ray Garnie, Senior Vice-President, Sales, DigiCert, while talking about the impending threat.

DigiCert is one of the world’s premier high-assurance digital certificate providers. It provides authentication, identity and encryption solutions for the web as well as the Internet of Things (IoT).  Securing more than 26 billion web connections every day, the company has as many as 89% of Fortune 500 companies as its customers, who have chosen DigiCert for their security certificates. The company operates from 180 countries and already has more than 100 patents in their kitty.

According to Garnie, encrypted data takes a lot of time to be analyzed. However, quantum computing would alter the current situation and pose new threats. What this means is that different devices, which have already been certified, will need to be upgraded. DigiCert has begun offering test kits to companies to face the upcoming challenges.

“We are future proofing security against the era of quantum computing. Let’s take the example of banking. ATM terminals stay in the market for around 5-10 years. We are trying to future proof these devices so that when quantum computing becomes available they are not found scrambling. This is why we now have these PQC (post quantum) certificates. It will be a hybrid of the current encryption as well as PQC.  We have come up with a number of such ways to protect the companies. As always we are constantly innovating so that we are ahead of the threat curve,” points out Garnie.

Leveraging Cutting Edge Innovation for a Secure Future

This has been enabled due to the organization’s thrust on research and development. After DigiCert acquired the Symantec website security business in 2017, it has been investing heavily in platforms, products and infrastructure. The company has launched a new R&D division called DigiCert Labs in 2019. The initiative is dedicated towards researching as well as developing innovative approaches to various security challenges.

DigiCert Labs is collaborating  with other labs such as Microsoft Research, ISARA, etc. for research related to data integrity, authentication, encryption and identity. The initial research projects focus on post-quantum cryptography, machine learning, challenges posed by quantum computing and providing security for future cryptography. The efforts are directed towards providing certificates that will allow web servers and devices to be protected against quantum computers as well as classical computers.

“To give an example of how much we put back into this – the amount of money we invested was more than the revenue our closest competitor makes. We are always striving for innovation and want end users to feel safe when they are going on a website. We are already looking to improve the processes for banks,” he adds with confidence.

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