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The race to prevent Q-Day.

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

It has been over two decades since the Y2K bug gripped the world with fear and anticipation. I vividly recall my time in a high-flying startup, where we first encountered this perplexing issue, uncertain of how to tackle it. Compounding our concerns was the media frenzy, as they latched onto the story without truly understanding the intricacies of computer systems, amplifying a narrative of digital collapse. However, as January 1 arrived, the clock turned, and life carried on, it became clear that Y2K was more hype than bite.

Reflecting back on those days, I realize that Y2K was a small problem in the grand scheme of things, especially when compared to the challenges we face today. Nevertheless, during that era, the IT industry held genuine concerns that it could jeopardize not only the Internet but also our most trusted computing systems. Fortunately, it turned out to be nothing more than a minuscule blip in the history of technology.

I share the story of Y2K because, at present, our digital world confronts threats that demand our serious attention. One such threat is Q-Day, which has the potential to disrupt global power balances and undermine trusted systems, including banking, military, communication, and infrastructure. But what exactly is Q-Day, and why should we care?

Q-Day is the term experts use to describe the looming danger of quantum computing and its ability to dismantle all forms of encryption, particularly the public encryption systems that protect our most critical systems. As a prominent cryptographer from Microsoft aptly stated, "Having access to a quantum computer will be like having the master key to unlock anything you want in this digital world." This means private phone calls are no longer secure, encrypted emails can be decrypted within seconds, and even data stored on devices is vulnerable to theft. Moreover, the repercussions extend to the disruption of the banking and financial sectors, potentially leading to unprecedented chaos and the ability to pilfer funds at will. If these possibilities sound dire, prepare for worse. Computers now govern every aspect of our world, from power grids to airborne planes. Our dependence on computing systems has reached unprecedented levels, making them an attractive target for malicious actors. An ability to breach security instantaneously would grant attackers control over these systems, leading to unimaginable consequences. Q-Day is on the horizon, and its impact is poised to be far-reaching, especially as we navigate an increasingly unsettled global landscape, characterized by a war in Europe and escalating tensions in the Pacific. In the realm of cyberwarfare, the quantum computer is set to become the weapon of choice.

Now, the question arises: How real is the quantum threat, and how can we minimize or even eliminate it? For years, quantum computing efforts have primarily been spearheaded by well-funded nation-state laboratories across the world, with China emerging as a frontrunner. Holding the highest number of patents in quantum computing technology, China has invested significant resources and assembled a formidable team of Ph.D. scientists working on this cutting-edge field. Let us not forget Russia, which has also made noteworthy strides in quantum computing and boasts one of the fastest quantum computers in existence.

The media has often portrayed the quantum threat as a distant concern, arguing that quantum computing is not yet ready for primetime, and thus, we have nothing to worry about. However, the speed at which quantum computing has transitioned from a scientific endeavor to a market-ready product has caught many by surprise. Today, quantum computers are commercially available from multiple vendors, with Intel introducing its quantum chip, and soon, these remarkable chips will be accessible to the public. In fact, IBM's quantum computing as a service platform allows users to rent time on a quantum computer, while the company recently unveiled its own 127-qubit quantum chip.

Notably, what we see from prominent companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Rigetti, and Honeywell is just the tip of the iceberg. China and Russia, although secretive about their quantum computing advancements, assert their superiority whenever American companies make significant announcements. This fact should instill a sense of concern among us all, considering the current state of the world and escalating tensions.

A prime example of competitive nation-states surpassing America's quantum efforts is when Google achieved quantum supremacy, a milestone indicating that a quantum computer can perform calculations beyond the reach of the world's fastest classical computers. Yet, China swiftly stole the spotlight by demonstrating its quantum computer's ability to perform the same calculation a million times faster. Although Google and China employed different types of quantum computers, the results speak for themselves.

It is essential to acknowledge that the true capabilities of China and Russia's quantum computing systems remain shrouded in secrecy. Much of their advanced computational power remains hidden, known only to a select few within secure vaults. The nation that gains a quantum advantage wields immense power in this digital realm.

So, what does Q-Day mean, and how can we protect ourselves, our businesses, and our countries from this imminent threat? It boils down to the three P's of cybersecurity in the post-quantum era: Protect Data, establish robust Policies, and implement effective Procedures.

To safeguard against the quantum threat, protecting data beyond encryption becomes imperative. Off-the-shelf security measures are no longer sufficient; we need quantum-secure security solutions. Quantum-secure security, akin to a waterproof watch, ensures that nothing can breach the security of our data. On the other hand, quantum resilience, comparable to water resistance, provides temporary defense but can eventually succumb to attacks from a quantum computer. Currently, Secured2 is the only quantum-secure security solution available in the market.

Establishing comprehensive data security policies is another critical step. These policies define how organizations handle customer data, employee Personally Identifiable Information (PII), patents, and sensitive information. They outline specific elements related to data privacy, password management, internet and email usage, approval processes for employee-owned devices, social media exposure, software applications, licensing, and incident reporting. A well-crafted policy governs these aspects and drives decision-making.

The final piece of the puzzle is implementing robust cybersecurity procedures. These procedures ensure the enforcement, prevention, and identification of policy behaviors. By establishing consistent security practices, procedures help manage security affairs within organizations. They outline the actions to be taken and serve as a guidebook in handling cyber security incidents.

When combined with Secured2's industry-leading quantum-secure security, a solid policy and procedure framework significantly reduces risk, minimizes expenses, and shields businesses from the impending quantum threat. The time to prepare for the quantum era is now.

In conclusion, as we reflect on the bygone Y2K scare, we must acknowledge the tangible quantum threat our digital world faces today. Secured2's innovative approach to data protection provides a quantum-secure security solution that surpasses traditional encryption methods. By embracing strong policies and procedures, we fortify our security posture and effectively navigate the quantum era. As tensions rise and geopolitical landscapes evolve, it is imperative that we take proactive measures to secure our digital future.

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