Saturday, February 06, 2016

NSA says it "must act now" against the threat of quantum computing...,

technologyreview |  The National Security Agency did a surprising thing last August – it suddenly declared that the algorithms it had spent a decade telling the world were the best way to lock up secret data weren’t safe anymore. The reason? The danger of quantum computers.

The NSA has now released more detail on those fears. “There is growing research in the area of quantum computing, and enough progress is being made that NSA must act now,” says a new Q&A-style document on the problem. It’s aimed at companies and government departments working with sensitive data.

The catch is that no one knows how to make quantum-computer-proof encryption. The NSA can only tell companies building new systems to use certain algorithms “believed to be safe from attack by a large quantum computer.” It says it’s working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology on coming up with some new standard algorithms that could survive in a post-quantum era.

Work in that area is still in an embryonic state, however. Quantum-resistant encryption algorithms that have been proposed by researchers at Microsoft and other places have not been formally proved to be safe against the power of quantum computers.