Japanese consortium for post-quantum secure cloud

Japanese consortium for post-quantum secure cloud

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Four Japanese organisations have formed a consortium to develop post-quantum cloud technology that is secure against quantum computer attacks. 

Toppan Printing, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), quantum algorithm specialist QunaSys and cybersecurity firm Isara will develop secure processing, communication, storage, and use of data.

The move is not just a response to the roll out of US quantum computers from companies such as D-Wave, Rigetti and IBM (see below) with quantum computing services already available on Amazon Web Sevices, but also the challenge from China. “In the field of quantum cryptography, China is conducting testing on a far greater scale than other nations, and Japan is lagging behind in this respect,” said Masahide Sasaki, Distinguished Researcher at the Advanced ICT Research Institute at NICT. European standards group ETSI has also published guidance on post-quantum security,

Post-quantum encryption technologies will be important for the collection, analysis, processing, and use of highly sensitive personal and corporate information accumulated in such fields as medical care, new materials, manufacturing, and finance in public and private cloud infrastructure.

Pilot testing of application software is scheduled to begin during 2022, with limited practical implementation targeted in 2025, and the launch of services planned for 2030. The timing is in part determined by the development of encrpyption standards for post-quantum encryption in the next two years and the asssociated hardware standards. The first quantum-secure point to point networks are already rolling out.  

The group sees practical application of quantum computing technologies around 2030, making it possible to decrypt highly-sensitive communications such as electronic payments and digital application forms containing personal data. Post-quantum encryption technologies will therefore be required as society is faced with the challenge of bolstering security.

Next: Post-quantum computing infrastructure

The collaboration aims to establish quantum-secure cloud technology as infrastructure for data storage/transfer and post-quantum public key authentication. This will be based on system design, consideration of specifications, application of the latest quantum cryptography technologies, implementation of backup and data storage using secret sharing technology, and the development of digital signatures based on post-quantum public key cryptography.

NICT is also working to establish international standards and is aiming to make proposals to such organizations as the ITU-T, ISO/IEC, and ETSI by fiscal 2022. These proposals cover such areas as network requirements, architecture, and security requirements as well as the evaluation and testing of key management and quantum cryptography modules.

Toppan Printing is contributing its expertise from smartcard technology, while QunaSys has built up a range of quantum computing technologies through the development of quantum computer algorithms and Qamuy, a piece of quantum chemistry calculation software that makes use of quantum computers. QunaSys will drive the provision of material development services using the quantum secure cloud technology and also contribute its user expertise.

“Toppan is proud to be able to undertake R&D on quantum computing for the creation of Society 5.0 with organizations whose activities are leading the world. For many years we have been involved in operations handling personal and sensitive information as well as security businesses focused on authentication and payment. With concern over existing cryptography technology and security being compromised in the near future, Toppan sees the implementation of new security technologies in society as a major responsibility. Quantum secure cloud technology is a concept for a practical system combining such security technologies as next-generation quantum cryptography and secret sharing. By combining the expertise of each company, we aim to make this a reality and contribute to safety and security in the age of quantum computing,” said Hiroki Shibatani, Executive Officer of Toppan’s DX Design Division.

“The NICT has been working on the development of quantum cryptography for more than 20 years. It is being used for state-level confidential communications and by financial and medical institutions, but is still at the stage of research. With this collaboration, we hope to establish a ‘made-in-Japan’ quality assurance platform for standardization and ensure that Japan takes the lead going forward. Society 5.0 will see the generation of highly sensitive personal data and high-value business information. It is vitally important that businesses and users are able to store, share, and use that information securely. I am confident that by making quantum secure cloud technology a reality with this collaboration and establishing the foundations to support Society 5.0, we will be able to help enhance Japan’s competitiveness,” said Sasaki at NICT.

“With such developments as Google’s achievement of quantum supremacy, there have been numerous breakthroughs in quantum computing in recent years, and we are getting closer to practical application. However, when it comes to the widespread application of a new technology, concerns also accompany expectations. While quantum computing is anticipated to increase the speed of scientific calculation for materials, there is also the possibility that today’s RSA cryptosystems could be cracked. Because QunaSys handles highly sensitive data for new materials, we feel the need for quantum cryptography technologies that can protect that confidential information. We believe that the quantum secure cloud technology targeted by this collaboration will be essential in the quantum computing age. By leveraging that technology, we aim to create services for material development, an area in which the use of quantum computers is highly anticipated,” said Tennin Yan, CEO of QunaSys.

“The quantum computing era is expected to begin within the next seven to 15 years, and there are indications that existing cryptographic technologies could be compromised. Work to standardize quantum-safe cryptography that is believed to be secure against attacks by quantum computers is therefore underway. It is important to note, however, that it will take time to migrate to quantum-safe cryptography. For example, the modernization of cryptography used by the U.S. Armed Forces, including initiatives to transition from RSA to ECC, remains incomplete after 20 years. It is too late to act once a threat has arisen, so it is essential to promptly formulate plans and start to implement measures now. Quantum secure cloud technology is something that can counteract those threats. We believe that if it can be incorporated into social infrastructure, then there is a large market for it. By leveraging ISARA’s expertise in cryptography migration based on quantum-safe and crypto-agile technologies, we intend to explore the ideal vision for the quantum computing era and contribute to social change,” said Atsushi Yamada, Vice President, Research & Development, ISARA Corporation.

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