Quantum Startups Aim to Future-Proof Corporate Security
Businesses need to guard against their systems being compromised when quantum computing exponentially boosts processing power.

Existing cybersecurity measures deployed by banks and companies don’t stand a chance against quantum computers, speakers at Toronto’s Venture North conference warned.

“Bank encryption will be rendered completely vulnerable when hackers get quantum computing,” ISARA Corporation VP Paul Lucier said, adding that the technology will likely become widely available within the next nine years.

The threat posed by quantum computers to cybersecurity is down to the speed at which encryption can be brute forced. A 10-letter password that contains punctuation and at least one number and capital letter would take roughly four weeks to crack, according to Dashlane.

If we take Google’s claims of the speed of the D-Wave processor at face value, with a quantum computer this time would be reduced to 0.02 seconds.

ISARA works with organizations to future-proof them against forthcoming technology with “quantum resistant” security. They have released a toolkit aimed at developers in the security space, which consists of drop-in algorithm replacements for current technology.

Christian Weedbrook of CipherQ, another startup focused on corporate security, said e-mail hacks such as the one sustained by Ashley Madison were like “a mosquito bite to the nuclear bomb of quantum that is coming in a few year’s time.”

E-mail hacks have lost the corporate world some $2.3 billion in since January 2015. As well as malware, an increasingly common vector has been social engineering: legitimate-seeming e-mails posing as requests for high-value bank transfers are often targeted at CEOs or finance officers.

Weedbrook added that cash scams are not the only issue. Hackers may use compromised systems to steal confidential information and offer it to a competitor.

ISARA is based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, a region that produced BlackBerry and is becoming a North American center for quantum technology research. CipherQ is based in Toronto.

“Canada is a remarkable country to be doing quantum technology,” said Weedbrook.

And if you’re missing an explanation of quantum computing, look no further than Canada’s PM: