Quantum computing (QC) garners a lot of positive press due to its power to solve complex computations several times faster. It is envisioned that QC can be a critical enabler and a strong catalyst to considerably reduce the computational power required to perform complex calculations and boost the future of sixth-generation (6G) communication.
A strong 6G demands a strong security framework to safeguard the colossal data transfers happening on communication channels.
As per existing protocols, sensitive information is encrypted and transmitted via fibre-optic cables along with the required cryptographic keys to decrypt the information. The data and keys are transmitted using the standard bit format of 0s and 1s.
These protocols are at risk of being compromised by the increasing capacity of QCs. The computation power of QC can factorise large numbers in seconds to hack the cryptographic keys.
Fortunately, the solution to this problem also lies in quantum mechanics.
Quantum communication uses the laws of quantum physics to protect data and safeguard communication channels. One of the important rules of quantum mechanics is the superposition of particles. The principle states that particles can represent several simultaneous combinations of 0 and 1s. The other principle is quantum entanglement. Particles in an entangled state are affected simultaneously even if only one particle is disturbed. This prevents hackers from altering quantum bits (qubits) without leaving a visible trace of their actions.
Several cryptographic techniques have been developed using different principles of quantum mechanics. One of the popular techniques is the Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). In QKD, two remote users create private quantum keys securely. Using these keys, secret messages can be encrypted into ciphertext and sent from one user to another.
QKD and quantum random number generators (QRNG) are two of the most investigated quantum technologies for quantum communication.
Why is QKD important for 6G?
Quantum cryptography employs principles of quantum physics to securely transfer data. Even if the communication link is unreliable, the requirement is that the transmitted messages remain unavailable to anybody other than the intended recipients.
This is typically guaranteed only in traditional cryptography under the assumptions of computational difficulties, such as when factoring huge numbers is impossible. In contrast, quantum cryptography relies solely on the laws of quantum mechanics for its security. In this regard, QKD is becoming one of the most promising applications of quantum security.
Quantum communication networks are a classic application of quantum technologies for 6G.
These networks would use quantum cryptography to secure the transmission of data, making it virtually impossible for third parties to intercept or access sensitive information. This is achieved with QKD, which allows for the secure distribution of encryption keys using entangled particles.
The Need for Quantum-safe Security
The emergence of quantum computing and quantum communications will have profound implications for security technologies and cyber-resilience.
While the underlying mechanisms of quantum physics in the context of quantum communications are well understood, there remain fundamental challenges to the practical implementations of quantum switches, routers, and error-correction technologies when building computing infrastructure at scale. In spite of these challenges, a dire need to prepare for a quantum-computing future is felt globally.
Today’s asymmetric cryptographic algorithms will have to be replaced with quantum-safe concepts.
In the case of sensitive data of long-term relevance, such replacement needs to be tackled now so that today’s data stored on servers can be protected against future quantum-compute-based algorithms.
Novel quantum algorithms such as Quantum Key Distribution may provide a new approach to secure 6G networks and protocols. Meanwhile, quantum-safe cryptographic schemes such as lattice-based or code-based approaches are currently showing much promise.
How can QNu Labs help?
QNu Labs is a pioneer in developing products that proactively secure data for the post-quantum era.
QNu’s range of quantum-based products covers security from end-to-end across the entire data-based paraphernalia. From quantum-based encryptions to entropy enhancement services, QNu covers all security bases.
It is time to use quantum cryptography against quantum-powered attacks.