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Making Sense of IoT’s Quantum Future: Its Potential Impact on IoT Security

Quantum computing often sounds too good to be true. The name alone has that futuristic flair that verges on buzzword territory. When explained in the detail it deserves, the concept can be difficult to introduce to laymen in a way that makes the benefits obvious. Everyone's familiar with the concept of bits, those zeroes-and-ones on-and-off switches that make up a traditional computer's decision-making process. But quantum bits (or qubits) that allow a switch to be on, off, or on and off at the same time? Sure, that allows for more complexity, but how does that translate?

No matter what the name conjures to mind or how difficult it is to understand in a functional way, quantum computing is almost surely going to revolutionize numerous digital technologies in the coming decade. Last year, Google published its infamous “quantum supremacy” paper, which claimed that it had solved a calculation in three minutes and twenty seconds that would take the fastest traditional computer about 10,000 years to do the same.

Though The Verge reports on the details of Google's admittedly mysterious announcement, experts generally agree that quantum computing is going to become a necessity if only to keep up with security concerns. A survey conducted by DigiCert showed that eight out of ten experts said it was “somewhat” to “extremely” important for IT to learn about quantum computing for security practices, and three out of four predicted that existing security algorithms would be vulnerable sometime before 2025, with 2022 being the median prediction.

Quantum computing, being both ineffable and imminent, can make it a frustrating topic to fit into a company's technology strategy. Starting with functional benefits helps cut down the confusion, and, as the DigiCert survey showed, there are few things more functional than security.

Preparing for Quantum Hacking

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows huge numbers of digital devices to work together for great benefit, but large networks come with security risks. IoT Agenda ran the numbers: Cisco predicted that there will be 28.5 billion network-connected devices in existence by 2022, while Kaspersky Lab showed that the number of security attacks on these devices is increasing rapidly every year. Threat researchers at SonicWall recorded an increase in IoT attacks of 217.5% in 2018 alone.

This increase in aggression is troubling for a world dealing with the rise of quantum computing. Google's quantum supremacy exercise hints to the reason why: if a quantum computer can solve a calculation in minutes that would take a traditional computer a millennium, then it definitely can trivialize existing security protocols. Races between arms and armor have been happening since the dawn of time, and the current contest is shaping up to be quantum encryption versus quantum decryption.

A report by CSO gives a detailed explanation of the possibilities and challenges of keeping digital security in the best shape possible while making the challenging transition from traditional computing to quantum computing. Using more rigorous traditional encryption methods can buy time against the coming wave of quantum computing decryption, but the ultimate goal that security experts are reaching toward is unhackable quantum encryption keys that can self-detect interference and shut themselves down.

As Disruption Hub points out, cybersecurity professionals are not optimistic about current levels of preparedness for networks becoming compromised by hacking. The rise of organizations experiencing these attacks, and the value of the lost data and disrupted productivity, means that companies can't afford to ignore this gap in their armor for much longer.

It's Not Just Negative

Despite the implementation challenges and security threats, quantum computing brings upsides as well. The vastly accelerated computing power enables many of IoT's strengths. Faster computing means that an even larger number of distributed devices can monitor and feed information into the same network without compromising on responsive communication or complex data gathering.

The large amount of information collected by an IoT network always has created synergy with machine learning, but quantum computing could take that pairing to the next level. Singularity Hub, for example, discusses the ramifications of a recent study by IBM that shows how even a simple quantum computer can accelerate a machine learning device's ability to recognize and classify data.

Whether the risks or the opportunities are what capture your imagination about quantum computing's effect on IoT, Aeris is here to help you reach your vision of the future. We offer full-stack IoT technology assistance and have proven experience in helping companies manage their IoT transformation.

Ready to talk quantum? Contact us today.