The UK government has reportedly acquired its first quantum computer with the aim to help boost research capabilities in cyber-defence and other national security fields.
The BBC have reported that The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to work with Orca Computing, a UK company, to explore the potential of quantum to enhance the nation’s defence systems.
The scheme was born out of research developed at the University of Oxford. Orca Computing’s aim is to develop scalable quantum computers that integrate with real-world technologies. Current prototypes find this challenging because they have to keep the qubits on which they run at very cold temperatures, else they become unstable.
Orca Computing, however, claims to have found a way to utilise quantum computing without needing to run at extremely low temperatures. To enhance scale and reliability, optical fibre can be used for networks rather than silicon.
The uses of quantum are nearly limitless. The time it takes to process data and make calculations is shorter than that of conventional supercomputers. This has caused some concern in cybersecurity circles as it is thought that Shor’s algorithm may be cracked within the next 10 years. This would render asymmetric (PKI) encryption useless.
Cryptographic expert and chief strategy officer at Sectigo, David Mahdi, urged governments and organisations to begin preparing for the new quantum age of computing now.
He said, “for more than fifty years, public key infrastructure, or PKI, has been relied upon by almost all organizations to provide the cryptographic backbone which secures devices and the humans using them.”
“Like most things, nothing lasts, and the PKI we all rely upon to maintain digital trust is severely threatened by quantum computing.”
The MoD will be hoping that this will give them an advantage in the quantum arms race.