Cisco sees headway in quantum networking, but advances are slow


The development of quantum networking technology will ultimately yield more secure and higher-speed connectivity, but it’s still very early in the game and many challenges remain before it becomes mainstream.

While core quantum networking technologies such as repeaters and photonics are being developed, it is security applications – specifically post-quantum cryptography (PQC) – that are likely to be the first real-world developments that come out of the lab, according to Liz Centoni, executive vice president, chief strategy officer and general manager of applications at Cisco. PQC, or quantum-safe cryptography, features complicated cryptographic algorithms that are expected to protect quantum computers from sophisticated attacks. 

“We will see adoption of post-quantum cryptography (PQC) – even before it is standardized – as a software-based approach that works with conventional systems to protect data from future quantum attacks,” Centoni wrote in a recent blog about core technology predictions for 2024 and beyond.

“PQC will be adopted by browsers, operating systems, and libraries, and innovators will experiment by integrating it into protocols such as SSL/TLS 1.3 which governs classic cryptography,” Centoni stated. “PQC will also start to trickle down to enterprises as they aim to ensure data security in the post-quantum world.” The need for such security is becoming critical now because of the concern that bad actors are already employing attack vectors in preparation for what quantum computers might be able to crack in years to come.

“There is a massive problem looming in front of us, and that is the whole ‘harvest now, decrypt later’ challenge,” said Vijoy Pandey, senior vice president of Cisco’s advanced research group Outshift. “For government, sensitive transactions, [and] financial institutions, security is a big deal and people are getting paranoid about this.”

So much so that an IBM executive at the World Economic Forum in Davos said: “Is quantum going to really create a cybersecurity Armageddon? It’s going to,” said Ana Paula Assis, IBM’s general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa.


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