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Technology has continually evolved rapidly to meet business needs. However, the rapid pace of evolution often leaves companies dealing with new risks, some of which they fail to anticipate. Quantum computing is the next technological frontier offering immense potential and risks.
McKinsey and Company believe that the value at stake for quantum computing use cases is worth over $80 billion. The size of the industry could surpass that within the next few years. However, quantum computing is incompatible with current cybersecurity postures.
Quantum tech processes information differently from today’s computers. These processes can handle more data and deliver insights at blazing speed. As a result, companies must upgrade their infrastructure and the security processes guarding them.
Here are three ways enterprises can execute right now to prepare for the quantum future.
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Explore process flexibility
Quantum computing’s power comes from its building block: a qubit. Traditional computers process information in binary code, a string of zeros and ones, to decode and create output. Quantum computers ditch binary strings for the much more volatile Qubit, a string of information that allows the processor to explore several paths to a solution. In addition, the Qubit frees the computer to deal with several inputs at once.
The upshot of this fundamental change is that the current security infrastructure will soon become outdated. Most organizations currently use a hybrid of cloud and on-premise apps to enforce security. However, these solutions move at speed limited by hardware. They process information at an infinitesimally slow pace compared to the rates at which quantum processors move.
An attack on a system executed by a quantum computer will likely cripple most hardware infrastructure. Solutions providers are currently grappling with this issue by upgrading their technology and installing quantum tech.
However, given quantum technology’s nascent condition, experts struggled to predict the final form a solution will take. Enterprises must begin rethinking the flexibility in their infrastructure since they’ll have to adapt to new conditions quickly once quantum computing fully arrives.
Aside from researching the threats quantum computing poses, companies must also rethink their security models. For instance, most systems are secured by passwords backed by 2FA authentication. Password or key-centric access is vulnerable to quantum computing power despite multiple security layers.
Currently, secret vaults store keys and assign new ones based on a processor’s ability to break them. As a result, most keys to securing company secrets are tricky for existing processors but a cakewalk for quantum processors.
Implementing password-less access via FIDO protocols is a possible solution. Keeping up to date with NIST’s recommendations is another option companies should explore.
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Invest in talent
Cybersecurity is challenging, and companies are hard-pressed to find the right talent. Most developers lack a security background, choosing to specialize in application development aligned with agile practices. As a result, security talent is short.
The arrival of quantum computing adds another layer to the challenge. Quantity computing talent is low, and quantum security talent is challenging to find. One solution for enterprises is to invest in educating existing talent and upskilling employees.
Offering grants and other incentives to rising talent is another way for companies to adopt a robust stance. Companies following this path have the chance to pioneer the field of quantum cybersecurity, something that will stand them in good stead in the future.
Aside from developing talent pipelines, companies must also use analytics to plug holes in their security postures. Using what-if scenarios, corporations can create a risk matrix that identifies potential breaches if a quantum threat ever occurs. For instance, they can identify which systems are most at risk and which data will likely suffer an impact.
Analytics cannot fully comprehend the speed of quantum processors currently. However, by modeling extreme scenarios on these platforms, companies can check the impact on their processes and create recovery plans.
Recognize the opportunity
Quantum computers’ abilities currently fall short of traditional computing power. However, the technology has an immense runway. Transitioning to a fully quantum model will take time, and companies must begin preparing immediately.
Much like how VR and AI technologies suffered phases of low interest, quantum computing will experience periods where investment and enthusiasm will diminish. However, companies must not mistake this natural phenomenon as an excuse to stop preparing for a quantum future.
Despite the so-called AI winter, AI is present in almost every platform and process in several industries. Similarly, quantum computing is bound to make its way into several applications. To successfully transition, companies must evaluate their business goals and define the scope of their adoption projects.
For instance, algorithms that are currently too sophisticated to execute via traditional computing must be defined and stored safely. Their infrastructure needs must be specified. Most importantly, the security processes they will need must be identified. Working backward from these needs, companies can identify the steps they must take to get there.
Preparation is the key because when quantum computing arrives fully, those left behind will find it tough to make up lost ground.
A promising future
Quantum computing is set to relegate current technology to the level of the abacus. While the technology still has a ways to go before it is widely used, there’s undoubtedly colossal potential. Only time will tell what the future will look like. However, enterprises must seize the opportunity to secure their risks and map development plans to match quantum needs right now.
Related: What Small Businesses Need to Know About the Future of Cybersecurity and Hackers