In brief

In brief

  • Many companies are talking about quantum computing, but few are looking at the possible massive impact on the existing cryptographic methods they use.
  • Quantum threatens businesses' ability to operate in the future because they will be unable to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of business transactions.
  • Projections suggest quantum computing will be viable 10-15 years from now, but Accenture believes the tipping point will be much sooner—by 2025.
  • Businesses must start preparing now because it will take a long time to assess and update cryptographic schemes across infrastructure, systems, applications and third parties.

Quantum is coming…is your security function ready?

Companies currently rely on public key encryption, digital signatures and key exchanges to protect business commerce, communications, identity and data. These cryptographic schemes are underpinned by a set of vetted algorithms, and the level of protection is based on the strength of the underlying math and difficulty of calculation.

Existing cryptographic methods are the fabric of commerce, communications, identity and data protection at large—and all must be reviewed and potentially updated to continue conducting business safely and securely in a post-quantum world.

Quantum computing provides the processing hardware necessary to run Shor’s Algorithm at scale and perform even the most difficult underlying math problems very efficiently. Quantum also offers the power to identify secret cryptographic keys in an extremely efficient way. This could potentially expose businesses to threat actors globally—and all at once.

This disruption eclipses the diligent planning and deep investment that went into Y2K preparations. It is an immense, high-impact event that will override existing cryptography methods and make current infrastructure and application protections irrelevant.

Timing is critical as companies will not have the full eight years until 2025 to de-risk. This huge change management effort will take at least two to four years to implement once there is a viable proven algorithm announced somewhere between 2022-2024.

Accenture believes the inflection of quantum computing is coming quickly and the ability to break classic cryptography will be reached within the next 8 years — by 2025.

Every organization should work to achieve quantum-proof coverage by 2025.

Steps to maintain secure communications and encryption:

By June 2019

Assess scope—Evaluate the cryptographic risks across business processes and assets, including current crypto methods, key lengths and where stored in the enterprise and within the partner ecosystem.

By January 2020

Develop mitigation strategies—Update existing crypto methods (i.e., lengthen key sizes), explore other data protection controls, evaluate current quantum-resistant lattice-based and hash-based cryptography.

By end of 2025

Plan and implement migration—Update systems with quantum-proof cryptography methods across all prioritized enterprise assets and third parties. Develop new policies, methods and procedures to support.

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