As the technology advances and more business processes become digitalized each day, we seek new ways to protect our valuable data from prying eyes and cyber criminals. Post-quantum cryptography is one of these new ways. In this article, we will discuss what post-quantum cryptography is and why we will need it very soon.
The word cryptography itself consists of two morphemes: the prefix crypt which means hidden, and the word graphy that means text, writing.
The term cryptography refers to a specific method of protecting information and digital communications with the extensive use of codes and algorithms. Through cryptography practices, only the intended receivers of a piece of information can read and process it.
In computer science, the term cryptography is used to refer to all the techniques that are used in order to ensure the secure communication and transmission of information. Such techniques are created through mathematical concepts and sets of rule-based, complex calculations also known as algorithms.
Through encryption algorithms, the messages are encrypted, in other words they are transformed into a form that can only be understood after applying a very specific set of mathematical operations.
Encryption algorithms are used for various purposes including data privacy, ensuring confidential communications like e-mails, processes that involve the exchange of sensitive information like credit card transactions, web browsing and more. In other words, encryption and cryptography allows us to conduct our business, do shopping, communicate efficiently and do much more online, without worrying about intruders, prying eyes and cyber criminals.
The past few years have brought extraordinary developments regarding the quantum computers. Simply put, quantum computers are extremely advanced devices that make use of quantum mechanics to find solutions for complex mathematical problems that are almost impossible to solve for regular computers.
Quantum computers provide unprecedented computational powers, such that they will be able to break almost any public-key cryptosystems that are in use today. As a result, the development of a fully functional quantum computer will significantly compromise the confidentiality of our digital communications and transactions.
Post-quantum cryptography (also known as the quantum-resistant cryptography) aims to come up with encryption systems that are not easily cracked through the use of quantum computers. In other words, post-quantum cryptography aspires to ensure that our communications, business processes, transactions and information will be safe in the age of quantum computers.
Quantum-resistant algorithms have been being studies for a while now. The specialists and scholars are employing ‘traditional’ computers to come up with quantum-safe algorithms that will be able to stand before the power of quantum computing.
The main difference between today’s widely used algorithms and quantum-safe algorithms is the fact that the latter are significantly larger key signatures. As a result, they require more operations and greater memory but regardless, these quantum-safe algorithms will be very easy to implement into various processes, devices and networks. The experts believe the internet of things devices and radios may pose a problem but other than these, post-quantum algorithms will be very practical for almost everything.