US Memorandum on Post-Quantum Cryptography

Last weekend, a national note on quantum computing and security in the United States was published. Title of memorandum published May 4, 2022: National Security Memorandum on Advancing US Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating the Risks of Weak Cryptographic Systems.

The introductory paragraph states: “This memorandum outlines my government’s policies and initiatives related to quantum computing. It identifies the key steps required to maintain the nation’s competitive advantage in quantum information science (QIS) while reducing quantum computing risks to the nation’s cyber, economic, and national security. The memorandum provides specific actions for authorities to take as the United States begins a multi-year process to transition weak computing systems to quantum-resistant encryption. A classified annex to this memo addresses sensitive national security issues.”

And also:

“Section 1. Principle. (a) Quantum computing has the potential to drive innovation across the US economy, from fields as diverse as materials science and pharmaceuticals to finance and energy. While the full scope of quantum computing applications remains unknown, it is clear that technological leadership is And America’s continued scientificity will depend, at least in part, on the nation’s ability to maintain a competitive advantage in quantum computing and QIS.

(b) Besides its potential benefits, quantum computing also poses significant risks to the economy and national security of the United States. In particular, a quantum computer of sufficient size and complexity – also known as a cryptographically relevant quantum computer (CRQC) – would be able to crack much of the public-key cryptography used in digital systems in the United States and around the world. Once available, CRQC can jeopardize civil and military communications, undermine monitoring and control systems for critical infrastructure, and undermine security protocols for most Internet-based financial transactions. (…) “

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Comment from Dr. Robert Li Ming Ph.D., Senior Software Engineer at GlobalSign:

In my view, the White House strikes the right balance between action and restraint, or caution. There are some clear calls for action to push for more funding for research efforts in quantum technology. It can only be an advantage. But I was also impressed by some very plausible post-quantum strategies that were announced in the manifesto. The White House isn’t the first organization to push for faster encryption, but a compelling message is being conveyed here. I was also impressed by the way the statement maintained control: any hasty purchases of supposedly quantum-resistant crypto software/equipment were simply banned. And that’s before the NIST process gets properly completed this summer. And one last thought: I’m really relieved that I’m not the one who has to “inventory all the ciphers currently in use”. It’s not a very grinding approach, and it’s safe to assume that anyone who gets the task on their desk would be happy to complete the inventory in just six months…”

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