The power grid is a network of generator stations, transmission lines and towers, and individual consumer distribution lines to provide energy for consumption.
The global energy demand is estimated to increase by 50 percent by 2050. The growing energy demand necessitates more devices to regulate energy generation, transmission, and distribution. The present-day grid relies on a vast number of networked devices and sensors that constantly monitor energy inputs and outputs to optimise the production and distribution of energy.
Bitter-sweet relation of quantum computing and the grid
Quantum computing has the potential to transform the energy sector. It is a powerful tool to manage the surge of demand and monitor the increasingly complex systems on the grid. However, with this benefit comes adversity.
Quantum computers pose a threat to the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure like the energy grid due to their sheer processing power. They can be used as weapons to attack communication channels and sensitive data.
An attack on the grid is lucrative because:
It is believed that quantum computers have already demonstrated data breaches on our existing internet. Though such attacks are a rare occurrence, the ‘harvest now, decrypt later’ approach of data hackers continues to pose a threat.
Quantum security to the rescue
Quantum security must be approached holistically by combining NIST-standardised post-quantum algorithms with end-to-end architectures that protect the entire network from quantum attacks.
A Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) device can be deployed between the control centre and a substation. The cryptographic protocol using photons of light through a fibre optic cable enables the two parties to share a secret, randomly generated key which is known only to them.
The encryption key is the lynchpin of encryption and data protection; its strength is based on true randomness. Using a physical Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) as the source of high-quality cryptographic key generation along with encryption with ultra-low latency for real-time applications will provide encryption and authentication and meet the long-term quantum-safe protection requirements.
QNu Labs has pioneered quantum security with three flagship products:
Armos' QKD is a state-of-the-art appliance providing unconditional security for critical data through quantum physics.
Tropos' quantum random number generator (QRNG) uses the principles of quantum mechanics to generate truly random numbers.
Hodos is a post-quantum cryptography (PQC) algorithm developed by QNu labs with NIST PQC studies as a reference.
These three products collectively provide a robust security system for all forms of critical infrastructure.
Since energy is the backbone of the economy of any country, grid disruptions are a setback to a country's growth and reputation.