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Nist Kicks Off Effort to Defend Encrypted Data From Quantum Computer Threat

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What will happen to computer security if quantum computers are built?

A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology considers how to protect encrypted data from quantum decryption.

Credit: Hanacek/NIST

A new report from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) focuses on how to protect encrypted data from quantum decryption via a long-term plan.

"If and when someone does build a large-scale quantum computer, we want to have algorithms in place that it can't crack," says NIST mathematician Dustin Moody.

He notes a key near-term recommendation is for organizations to concentrate on "crypto agility," or the rapid ability to replace whatever algorithms they are using with newer and safer ones.

Moody says the creation of these new algorithms is the longer-term objective.

He says the initiative will involve open public collaboration, which will be formally rolled out in the next several months while resembling past contests.

"It will be a long process involving public vetting of quantum-resistant algorithms," Moody says. "And we're not expecting to have just one winner. There are several systems in use that could be broken by a quantum computer--public-key encryption and digital signatures, to take two examples--and we will need different solutions for each of those systems."

From NIST News
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