Biden Revs Up US Quantum Plans (Because China)

This week, the White House issued a memorandum and executive order that put a shedload of wood behind the quantum-computing arrow. The president wants industry to prep for the coming days when powerful quantum computers are reality. And he’s assembling a committee of experts.

The fear is that “adversaries” will break our encryption. Which adversaries would those be? Joe’s missives don’t say, but presumably it begins with C and ends in hina.

Let’s face it, Biden ain’t worried about being overtaken by Russia, amirite? In today’s SB Blogwatch, we superimpose eigenstates and try not to kill any cats.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Superposition.

Don’t Say the C-Word

What’s the craic? Joe Warminsky reports—“White House wants nation to prepare for cryptography-breaking quantum computers”:

Adversaries such as China
Biden orders federal agencies to ramp up preparations for a day when quantum computers are capable of breaking the public-key cryptography currently used to secure digital systems. … National Security Memorandum 10 (NSM-10) calls for “a whole-of-government and whole-of-society strategy” for quantum information science (QIS).

The chief concern is the expected creation of a cryptanalytically relevant quantum computer (CRQC) — the presumed goal of some QIS research by the U.S. as well as adversaries such as China. … Biden’s memorandum mentions quantum-resistant cryptography more than 20 times as it lays out tasks for agencies such as … CISA, the [NSA] and NIST. … NIST and CISA also would be required to set up outreach with the private sector … on transitioning important systems to quantum-resistant cryptography.

DevOps Unbound Podcast

And there was another shoe. Laura Dobberstein slips it on—“Biden orders new quantum push”:

None of the documents mentions China
An Executive Order creates a National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee comprising up to 26 experts from industry, academia, and federal laboratories – all appointed by the president and under the authority of the White House. The committee is an enhancement to the National Quantum Initiative Act – a 2018 law that provides $1.2 billion and a plan for advancing quantum tech.

Although none of the documents mentions China by name, the subtext is that these directives are necessary to compete with the Middle Kingdom as it heavily invests in quantum computing. … Beijing has demanded more breakthroughs in the field of quantum computing by 2030 – a year cited in a US congressional research report as the beginning of the era when conventional encryption will become unsafe.

What are the risks? Sergiu Gatlan summarizes—“Prepare for cryptography-cracking quantum computers”:

Will span over 50 government departments
The NSM outlines the risks of … CRQC, such as their likely ability to break current public-key cryptography. Immediate risks would include:
• Jeopardizing civilian and military communications.
• Undermining [ICS] for critical infrastructure.
• Defeating security protocols [of] financial transactions.

The Director of NSA, General Paul M. Nakasone, will oversee this … multi-year effort to migrate all vulnerable cryptographic systems to quantum-resistant cryptography. [It] will span over 50 government departments and agencies, [which] are ordered to prioritize the entire process, … mitigating as much of the quantum risk as possible by 2035.

Quantum computing? RitchCraft simply scoffs:

Things people say are only 10 years away but complain 50 years later that we don’t have them yet: … Quantum computing, Flying cars, AI [and] miracle breakthroughs in storage batteries coming soon.

If it’s so far off, is there method in the madness? druck remembers Reagan:

Quantum: The new star wars. Throw lots of money at it, even though you know it will never work, and hope it fools the other side into bankrupting themselves trying to keep up.

But what if it’s real? AcidFnTonic has an idea:

I really hope someone out there is harvesting encrypted government comms and storing them someplace safe to be decrypted in the future with quantum computers. … I sincerely look forward to the future when these “cryptanalytically relevant quantum computers” actually give us people some interesting power to go decrypt the communications of our governments past.

Of course it’s real! Because science, says justinludwig:

Nothing new to be alarmed about: Just doing appropriate planning for the future of cryptography over the course of the next few decades.

One rule for you and another for me? This Anonymous Coward is worried about E2E:

Say what? [Biden] should first have a word with his own politicians and FBI—who want to compromise encryption of their own citizens and businesses.

Meanwhile, a completely different Anonymous Coward ain’t buying any of it:

The white house might as well prioritize research into unicorns.

And Finally:

Piercing the QIS veil

Previously in And Finally

You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.

Image sauce: DonkeyHotey (cc:by; leveled and cropped)

Richi Jennings

Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.

richi has 542 posts and counting.See all posts by richi

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