Gearing up for quantum cryptography, the US Air Force partners with SandboxAQ

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The time is ticking for public key encryption. With researchers anticipating that quantum computers will be able to crack public key algorithms as early as 2030, organizations are under increasing pressure to find quantum-resistant algorithms to protect their data from threat actors.

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One such organization is the United States Department of the Air Force, which today partnered with artificial intelligence and quantum security provider SandboxAQ, awarding the provider a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract.

As part of the contract, the provider will conduct a post-quantum crypto inventory analysis and performance benchmarking.

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More broadly, the Air Force’s partnership with SandboxAQ highlights that the threat of post-quantum computing is not simply an abstract, theoretical threat, but a plausible risk that companies must prepare to address now.

The mandate of quantum cryptography

This new partnership marks SandboxAQ’s first military contract since it was spun off from Alphabet in March earlier this year, and is part of the Air Force’s attempt to prepare for the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Readiness Act, which requires US federal agencies upgrade to post-quantum encryption. .

The announcement comes amid a wave after NIST chose four post-quantum encryption algorithms to become part of its post-quantum cryptographic standard, and after Google Cloud announced it has implemented a post-quantum cryptographic algorithm to help protect its ALTS protocol. internal.

While the push for post-quantum cryptography may seem speculative at first glance, the risks posed by quantum computing can now be seen. For example, the Harvest now decrypt later or store-now-decrypt-later attacks mean that nation-state actors and cybercriminals can collect and store encrypted data today, for decryption at a later date.

“US adversaries are collecting encrypted data with the intent to exploit it once they deploy quantum computers – these are known as ‘store now, decrypt later’ attacks,” said SandboxAQ Public Sector President Jen Sovada. .

If successful, these attacks would allow threat actors to decrypt protected information at will.

“Quantum computers in the hands of adversary nation states could devastate US national security if Post-Quantum Cryptography, or PQC, is not urgently implemented. The implementation of PQC in homeland security systems is expected to take years and SandBoxAQ is proud to support the Air Force in this critical first step,” Sovada said.

The quantum crypto market

SandboxAQ sits within the quantum crypto market, which researchers estimate will grow from a value of $102.34 million in 2021 to $476.83 million in 2030, growing at a CAGR of 18.67% as more companies looking to prepare for Y2Q.

As the market grows, other post-quantum vendors such as PQShield are also attracting significant interest, raising $20 million in Series A funding earlier this year, offering enterprises cryptography on chip and in the cloud. This includes IoT firmware, public key infrastructure, server technologies, and end-user applications.

It is worth noting that PQShield researchers also contributed to the development of each of the first international PQC NIST standards.

Another up-and-coming provider in the space is Post Quantum, which provides a quantum-secure end-to-end encrypted messaging app, a post-quantum VPN, and a quantum-ready multi-factor biometric identity system for password-less login. According to Crunchbase, Post-Quantum has raised $11.2 million in funding to date.

SandboxAQ’s association with the US Air Force and its plans to forge more relationships in the public sector will help establish it as one of the most “battle-tested” post-quantum cryptography providers on the market.

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