U.S. Congress Introduces Cybersecurity Bill Prompted in Part by Quantum Computing’s Threat 

This past week, the second session of the 116th U.S. Congress saw a bill proposed placing cybersecurity as one of the grand challenges the U.S. faces. 

The Cybersecurity Competitions to Yield Better Efforts to Research the Latest Exceptionally Advanced Problems Act of 2020, or Cyber Leap Act of 2020, is for the purpose of achieving “high-priority” breakthroughs in cybersecurity by 2028.  To accomplish this feat, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce would be tasked to establish a set of five “national cybersecurity grand challenges”.  The effort would set aside funding for cash and non-cash awards to competing organizations which provide accepted solutions.

The quantum computing nexus is found in the second of the five challenges.  As stated, this challenge is for “advancing cybersecurity efforts in response to emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence, quantum science, and next generation communications technologies.”  Dubbed “Emerging Technology”, this challenge identifies quantum science as an emerging technology demanding attention from the cybersecurity aspect.  Undoubtedly, the next generation communications referenced would include quantum communications. 

With the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developing quantum-resistant algorithms, at least some aspect of cybersecurity is being addressed at present.  However, as the race toward quantum advantage is on between corporations and governments, a bill at this stage may only see the start of efforts by late 2021.  The race for a fully functional quantum computer is on, and so should the race to cybersecurity against these yet-to-be-realized machines. 

To achieve the high-priority breakthroughs in emerging technology, the year 2028 is the stated goal.  2028 places this challenge well within what many consider the time-frame for the attainment of quantum advantage.  Quantum advantage being the point at which quantum computing is really capable of tackling issues.  With this timeline, one should be able to see the concern.  This bill, if enacted now, would likely not start to see any real movement until late 2021.  This would leave perhaps six years to realize a solution to quantum computing’s threat.  If quantum advantage arrives sooner, the U.S. may be in a bit of a quandary.

Though this bill shows cybersecurity is still reactive, and arguably always will be, with quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and other emerging disruptive technologies, this may not necessarily always be the case.  Perhaps quantum computing, when realized as quantum advantage, will be able to mesh with AI and Machine Learning to better predict where malicious cyber activity is headed.  Doing so could result in cybersecurity solutions to protect against issues which have yet to occur.  Regardless, cybersecurity in the face of quantum computing’s threat looks to have gained specific attention by the U.S. Congress.  Now they must keep it moving forward, preferably at an accelerated pace.

Source:  The Qubit Report.  Robert Clifford,  U.S. Congress Introduces Cybersecurity Bill Prompted in Part by Quantum Computing’s Threat…

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