IBM launches tools to combat future quantum threats  

IBM quantum processor

IBM has launched its Quantum Safe portfolio of products, a set of tools designed to protect data against attacks from future quantum computing powered hacks.

IBM announced the new products at its annual Think conference in Florida. They are designed to address the down-side of the nascent quantum computing sector (which it is rather prominently involved in developing) in that should hackers or cyber criminals make use the advanced number-crunching systems for nefarious means, current security measures wouldn’t stand a chance.

Or as the release puts it: “Quantum technology is rapidly advancing. Soon, quantum systems will be able to solve previously unsolved problems beneficial to business and science, but this progress also poses security risks. As quantum computers continue to advance, they will reach the ability to break the most widely used security protocols in the world.”

There are three new products in the portfolio: IBM Quantum Safe Explorer is designed to allow firms to view and aggregate potential risks into one central location; IBM Quantum Safe Advisor allows the creation of a ‘dynamic or operational view of cryptographic inventory’ to guide remediation; and IBM Quantum Safe Remediator is supposed to provide an understanding of the potential impacts on systems and assets.

All that is obviously quite technical but the broad stroke of it is about offering products designed to make firms safer from future, as yet not entirely defined, attacks in perhaps a similar way to how current security software works.

Alongside this IBM is also unveiling its ‘Quantum Safe Roadmap’ – which it describes as a blueprint for clients to understand the technology milestones towards increasingly advanced quantum tech – or the ‘post-quantum era’ – and the subsequent vulnerabilities it presents.

“As a leader in quantum computing, IBM recognizes the importance of comprehensively addressing the critical needs of our clients as they also consider transforming their cryptography for the quantum era,” said Ray Harishankar, IBM Fellow and IBM Quantum Safe Lead. “Our new suite of quantum-safe technologies and milestones laid out on our roadmap is designed for the continuous evolution of post-quantum security in tandem with useful quantum computing, including solutions to help industries navigate this shift effectively and easily.”

While it is developing quantum computing products for ‘legitimate’ usage, IBM has been vocal about the potential down sides of the technology (you can read the firm go into detail on its thoughts in our interview with it and Vodafone) – and other firms are pushing out products with post-quantum security in mind as well such as LuxQuanta.

On business level this does seem like IBM gets two bites of the cherry – the product and tools to defend against misuse of the product. But since it is so integral in producing quantum systems that does logically imply it is well placed to calculate the best ways to defend against some of the harms it could cause.


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