Protecting Critical and Emerging U.S. Technologies from Foreign Threats

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Quantum Information Science and Technology, which includes quantum computing, networking, sensing, and metrology, leverages the fundamental properties of matter to generate new information technologies. For example, quantum computers can, in principle, use the unique properties of atoms and photons to solve certain types of problems exponentially faster than a conventional computer can. Over many decades, harnessing  quantum aspects of nature has produced critical technologies.

Benefits: Quantum information, science, and technology will bring new capabilities for both civilian and  military purposes. Through developments in this field, the United States can improve its industrial base, create jobs, and provide economic and national security benefits. Prior examples of quantum-related technologies include semiconductor microelectronics, photonics, the global positioning system, and magnetic resonance imaging, underpinning significant parts of the national economy and defense infrastructure.  Future scientific and  technological discoveries in quantum may be even more impactful. According to the White House Office of  Science and Technology Policy, U.S. Government investments in quantum and more recent industry involvement have transformed this scientific field into a nascent pillar of the American R&D enterprise.

Threats: Aside from their potential benefits, quantum technologies can also pose national security challenges. With further advancements in coming years, a large-scale quantum computer could potentially allow for the decryption of most commonly used cybersecurity protocols, putting at risk the infrastructure protecting today’s economic and national security communications. In short, whoever wins the race for quantum computing  supremacy could potentially compromise the communications of others. Without effective mitigation, the impact of adversarial use of a quantum computer could be devastating to national security systems and the nation, especially in cases where such information needs to be protected for many decades. Other quantum technologies may have future national security impacts. In the meantime, U.S. strategic competitors are recruiting America’s human talent to advance their quantum programs. Some foreign nations spend substantially more than the United States on their quantum initiatives, putting them better positioned to recruit individuals.

Source:  National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) (PDF).  National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) ,  Protecting Critical and Emerging U.S. Technologies from Foreign Threats…

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