IBM to deploy quantum-proof cryptography co-developed with CWI and RU

Together with CWI, RU and other international partners, IBM Research has developed quantum-safe algorithms for securing data. IBM has now implemented these algorithms in the world’s first quantum computing safe tape drive.

Publication date
28 Aug 2019

Together with CWI, Radboud University and other international partners, IBM Research has developed quantum-safe algorithms for securing data. The new algorithms, which are part of the CRYSTALS suite, are based on the hardness of mathematical problems that have not succumbed to any algorithmic attacks, either classical or quantum. The team made them open-source and submitted them to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a candidate for standardization. IBM has now implemented CRYSTALS in one of their tape drives, making it the world’s first quantum computing safe tape drive prototype.

CRYSTALS (CRYptographic Suite for Algebraic latticeS), contains a secure key encapsulation mechanism called Kyber, and a secure digital signature algorithm, called Dilithium. IBM tested CRYSTALS successfully on a prototype IBM TS1160 tape drive using both Kyber and Dilithium to enable the world's first quantum computing safe tape drive. To help clients assess their potential risks, IBM Security is also offering a quantum data risk assessment service to help clients develop a quantum-safe cryptography implementation strategy.

Quantum computing is an emerging technology that takes advantage of quantum mechanical phenomena to solve certain problems that are effectively impossible to solve on classical computers. There are serious concerns that data protected by current encryption methods may become insecure within the next 10-30 years. While years away, data can be harvested today, stored and decrypted in the future with a powerful enough quantum computer. Although the industry is still finalizing post-quantum cryptography standards, businesses and other organizations already can start preparing today. IBM will begin to offer quantum-safe cryptography services on its public cloud in 2020.

At CWI, cryptographer Léo Ducas is working on this research. He is a member of the Cryptology research group at CWI, headed by Prof. Ronald Cramer. This group investigates fundamental cryptographic questions from a broad scientific perspective. CRYSTALS (Cryptographic Suite for Algebraic Lattices) is developed jointly in collaboration with several academic and commercial partners including ENS Lyon, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam and Radboud University. It has been included by, to further develop open standards.  

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