Cambridge Quantum Launches Quantum Origin

Cambridge Quantum Launches Quantum Origin

A Quantum-Enhanced Cryptographic Key Generation Platform to Protect Data from Advancing Threats

Quantum Origin is the world’s first commercial product built using quantum computers that delivers an outcome that classical computers could not achieve.

  • Quantum Origin is the first platform to derive cryptographic keys using the output of a quantum computer to ensure data is protected at foundational level against evolving attacks 
  • It provides immediate protection to enterprises and governments from current security issues, arising from the use of weaker random number generators (RNGs)
  • Quantum Origin also helps protect against ‘hack now, decrypt later’ attacks, which are already happening and will have future implications
  • The quantum-enhanced cryptographic keys generated by Quantum Origin are based on verifiable quantum randomness and can be integrated into existing systems. The protocol relies on “entanglement”, a unique feature of quantum mechanics.
  • Quantum Origin supports traditional algorithms, such as RSA or AES, as well as post-quantum cryptography algorithms currently being standardised by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)

Cambridge Quantum, the global leader in quantum software, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Quantinuum, the world’s leading integrated quantum computing company, is pleased to announce that it is launching Quantum Origin – the world’s first commercially available cryptographic key generation platform based on verifiable quantum randomness. It is the first commercial product built using a noisy, intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) computer and has been built to secure the world’s data from both current and advancing threats to current encryption.

Randomness is critical to securing current security solutions as well as protecting systems from the future threat of quantum attacks. These attacks will further weaken deterministic methods of random number generation, as well as methods that are not verifiably random and from a quantum source.

Today’s systems are protected by encryption standards such as RSA and AES. Their resilience is based on the inability to “break” a long string from a random number generator (RNG). Today’s RNGs, however, lack true, verifiable randomness; the numbers being generated aren’t as unpredictable as thought, and, as a result, such RNGs have been the point of failure in a growing number of cyber attacks. To add to this, the potential threat of quantum attacks is now raising the stakes further, incentivising criminals to steal encrypted data passing over the internet, with a view to decrypting it later using quantum computers. So-called “hack now, decrypt later” attacks.

Quantum Origin is a cloud-hosted platform that protects against these current and future threats. It uses the unpredictable nature of quantum mechanics to generate cryptographic keys seeded with verifiable quantum randomness from Quantinuum’s H-Series quantum computers, Powered by Honeywell. It supports traditional algorithms, such as RSA or AES, as well as post-quantum cryptography algorithms currently being standardised by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

“We have been working for a number of years now on a method to efficiently and effectively use the unique features of quantum computers in order to provide our customers with a defence against adversaries and criminals now and in the future once quantum computers are prevalent,” said Ilyas Khan, CEO of Quantinuum and Founder of Cambridge Quantum. He added “Quantum Origin gives us the ability to be safe from the most sophisticated and powerful threats today as well as threats from quantum computers in the future.”

Duncan Jones, head of cybersecurity at Cambridge Quantum, said: “When we talk about protecting systems using quantum-powered technologies, we’re not just talking about protecting them from future threats. From large-scale takedowns of organisations, to nation state hackers and the worrying potential of ‘hack now, decrypt later’ attacks, the threats are very real today, and very much here to stay. Responsible enterprises need to deploy every defense possible to ensure maximum protection at the encryption level today and tomorrow.”

Quantum-enhanced keys on demand

With Quantum Origin, when an organisation requires quantum-enhanced keys to be generated, it can now make a call via an API. Quantum Origin generates the keys before encrypting them with a transport key and securely relaying them back to the organisation. To give organisations a high-level of assurance that their encryption keys are as unpredictable as possible, Quantum Origin tests the entire output from the quantum computers, ensuring that each key is seeded from verifiable quantum randomness.

These keys are then simple and easy to integrate within customers’ existing systems because they’re provided in a format that can be consumed by traditional cybersecurity systems and hardware. This end-to-end approach ensures key generation is on-demand and is capable of scaling with use, all while remaining secure.

Quantum Origin in practice

Quantum Origin keys should be used in any scenario where there is a need for strong cybersecurity. At launch, Cambridge Quantum will offer Quantum Origin to financial services companies and vendors of cybersecurity products before expanding into other high priority sectors, such as telecommunications, energy, manufacturing, defence and government.

The technology has already been used in a series of projects with launch partners. Axiom Space used Quantum Origin to conduct a test of post-quantum encrypted communication between the ISS and Earth – sending the message “Hello Quantum World” back to earth encrypted with post-quantum keys seeded from verifiable quantum randomness. Fujitsu integrated Quantum Origin into its software-defined wide area network (SDWAN) using quantum-enhanced keys alongside traditional algorithms.

MORE INFORMATION

Quantum Origin
The partners use cases of Quantum Origin

ABOUT CAMBRIDGE QUANTUM

Founded in 2014, Cambridge Quantum is a global leader in quantum software and quantum algorithms, enabling clients to achieve the most out of rapidly evolving quantum computing hardware. It is part of the newly formed Quantinuum, the world’s largest, integrated quantum computing company. Cambridge Quantum has offices in Europe, USA, and Japan. Access the source code for lambeq, TKET, Python bindings and utilities on GitHub

 

The Powered by Honeywell trademark is used under license from Honeywell International Inc. Honeywell makes no representations or warranties with respect to this product or service.

The Threat and Promise of Quantum Cybersecurity

Cambridge Quantum Launches Quantum Origin

A Quantum-Enhanced Cryptographic Key Generation Platform to Protect Data from Advancing Threats

Quantum Origin is the world’s first commercial product built using quantum computers that delivers an outcome that classical computers could not achieve.

  • Quantum Origin is the first platform to derive cryptographic keys using the output of a quantum computer to ensure data is protected at foundational level against evolving attacks 
  • It provides immediate protection to enterprises and governments from current security issues, arising from the use of weaker random number generators (RNGs)
  • Quantum Origin also helps protect against ‘hack now, decrypt later’ attacks, which are already happening and will have future implications
  • The quantum-enhanced cryptographic keys generated by Quantum Origin are based on verifiable quantum randomness and can be integrated into existing systems. The protocol relies on “entanglement”, a unique feature of quantum mechanics.
  • Quantum Origin supports traditional algorithms, such as RSA or AES, as well as post-quantum cryptography algorithms currently being standardised by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)

Cambridge Quantum, the global leader in quantum software, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Quantinuum, the world’s leading integrated quantum computing company, is pleased to announce that it is launching Quantum Origin – the world’s first commercially available cryptographic key generation platform based on verifiable quantum randomness. It is the first commercial product built using a noisy, intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) computer and has been built to secure the world’s data from both current and advancing threats to current encryption.

Randomness is critical to securing current security solutions as well as protecting systems from the future threat of quantum attacks. These attacks will further weaken deterministic methods of random number generation, as well as methods that are not verifiably random and from a quantum source.

Today’s systems are protected by encryption standards such as RSA and AES. Their resilience is based on the inability to “break” a long string from a random number generator (RNG). Today’s RNGs, however, lack true, verifiable randomness; the numbers being generated aren’t as unpredictable as thought, and, as a result, such RNGs have been the point of failure in a growing number of cyber attacks. To add to this, the potential threat of quantum attacks is now raising the stakes further, incentivising criminals to steal encrypted data passing over the internet, with a view to decrypting it later using quantum computers. So-called “hack now, decrypt later” attacks.

Quantum Origin is a cloud-hosted platform that protects against these current and future threats. It uses the unpredictable nature of quantum mechanics to generate cryptographic keys seeded with verifiable quantum randomness from Quantinuum’s H-Series quantum computers, Powered by Honeywell. It supports traditional algorithms, such as RSA or AES, as well as post-quantum cryptography algorithms currently being standardised by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

“We have been working for a number of years now on a method to efficiently and effectively use the unique features of quantum computers in order to provide our customers with a defence against adversaries and criminals now and in the future once quantum computers are prevalent,” said Ilyas Khan, CEO of Quantinuum and Founder of Cambridge Quantum. He added “Quantum Origin gives us the ability to be safe from the most sophisticated and powerful threats today as well as threats from quantum computers in the future.”

Duncan Jones, head of cybersecurity at Cambridge Quantum, said: “When we talk about protecting systems using quantum-powered technologies, we’re not just talking about protecting them from future threats. From large-scale takedowns of organisations, to nation state hackers and the worrying potential of ‘hack now, decrypt later’ attacks, the threats are very real today, and very much here to stay. Responsible enterprises need to deploy every defense possible to ensure maximum protection at the encryption level today and tomorrow.”

Quantum-enhanced keys on demand

With Quantum Origin, when an organisation requires quantum-enhanced keys to be generated, it can now make a call via an API. Quantum Origin generates the keys before encrypting them with a transport key and securely relaying them back to the organisation. To give organisations a high-level of assurance that their encryption keys are as unpredictable as possible, Quantum Origin tests the entire output from the quantum computers, ensuring that each key is seeded from verifiable quantum randomness.

These keys are then simple and easy to integrate within customers’ existing systems because they’re provided in a format that can be consumed by traditional cybersecurity systems and hardware. This end-to-end approach ensures key generation is on-demand and is capable of scaling with use, all while remaining secure.

Quantum Origin in practice

Quantum Origin keys should be used in any scenario where there is a need for strong cybersecurity. At launch, Cambridge Quantum will offer Quantum Origin to financial services companies and vendors of cybersecurity products before expanding into other high priority sectors, such as telecommunications, energy, manufacturing, defence and government.

The technology has already been used in a series of projects with launch partners. Axiom Space used Quantum Origin to conduct a test of post-quantum encrypted communication between the ISS and Earth – sending the message “Hello Quantum World” back to earth encrypted with post-quantum keys seeded from verifiable quantum randomness. Fujitsu integrated Quantum Origin into its software-defined wide area network (SDWAN) using quantum-enhanced keys alongside traditional algorithms.

MORE INFORMATION

Quantum Origin
The partners use cases of Quantum Origin

ABOUT CAMBRIDGE QUANTUM

Founded in 2014, Cambridge Quantum is a global leader in quantum software and quantum algorithms, enabling clients to achieve the most out of rapidly evolving quantum computing hardware. It is part of the newly formed Quantinuum, the world’s largest, integrated quantum computing company. Cambridge Quantum has offices in Europe, USA, and Japan. Access the source code for lambeq, TKET, Python bindings and utilities on GitHub

 

The Powered by Honeywell trademark is used under license from Honeywell International Inc. Honeywell makes no representations or warranties with respect to this product or service.

A new method to efficiently perform factoring would defeat modern encryption systems.
And Shor had just provided the theoretical method for doing it.

The Threat from Quantum Computing

Despite such advances, there are varying opinions on when Shor’s Algorithm may pose a serious threat to cybersecurity, with estimates ranging from five to 20 years. One factor suggesting a shorter timescale is the faster-than-Moore’s Law trajectory of current quantum hardware. Honeywell, for instance, believes it can increase the power of quantum computers by a factor of 10 every year for the next five years, yielding an increase in power of 100,000x by 2025.

Does this mean you should wait until “Q Day” to become concerned? Absolutely not: The need to protect infrastructure systems is more immediate than that, for three reasons.

First, it takes time to upgrade security software, and massive infrastructure that corporations or governments utilise can require months or even years to make this transition.

Second, there are rumors that adversarial governments and other bad-faith actors are archiving data now in anticipation of future decryption capabilities, known as a “harvest-now, decrypt-later” attack. This means, for example, that the encrypted files of a future jet fighter could be stolen now and later decrypted.

Third, Shor’s Algorithm is a proof that efficient decryption of RSA is realisable but is by no means the most efficient way to accomplish this; there have already been substantial improvements upon the original algorithm.

It is entirely possible that tomorrow a clever researcher could develop a vastly more efficient method of decryption, placing us that much closer to cybersecurity vulnerability. Thus, enterprises should consider making the transition as soon as possible.

Fortunately, intense effort is already underway to develop new cryptographic algorithms resistant to quantum hacking.

In 2016 the National Institute of Standards and Technology invited submissions for such “Post-Quantum Encryption (PQE).” Intense study followed as mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists did their utmost to defeat such submissions using quantum technology, both existing and theoretical. From the original 82 submissions, there are currently seven finalists. The winners are expected to be announced between 2022 and 2024. There will likely be a few algorithms selected, with a tradeoff between security and power consumption.

Protection Using Quantum Technologies

While it has become well-understood that quantum technologies can be used to attack communications, what is lesser known is how they can be used to protect communications. In particular, their role in an often overlooked yet fundamental aspect of cybersecurity: randomness.

Randomness is most often associated with cryptographic keys or passwords. An obvious property of such keys is that their method of generation should be non-deterministic. Any mathematical formula or pattern in such supposedly random generation would render its usefulness null.

The other essential aspect is its security. After its generation, there should not be any means for an adversary to gain knowledge of what this key is. Both these number generation and security issues are directly relevant to quantum computing.

Let us first consider number generation. While we all have an intuitive sense of what randomness means, have you ever considered how to generate a truly non-deterministic random number? Your first instinct may be to toss a die. But consider that the die obeys the laws of physics, which are completely understood and completely predictable. If you measured the speed and direction of your toss, the air pressure, the weight of the die and so forth, and then performed careful calculations to compute the trajectory, you would predict the outcome with 100% certainty. The fact that such modeling is possible means that this outcome is not at all random.

If we generalise this concept, we realise that any method using classical (non-quantum) physics is deterministic. This includes asking a classical computer to generate random numbers. While they can certainly generate pseudo random numbers, the computer merely follows a formula based on internal, obscure data (such as the number of milliseconds to have elapsed since the last restart) to calculate numbers that only superficially appear random. All of this could be modeled by a quantum-powered attacker.

The answer to producing true randomness lies in quantum physics. Quantum physics is based on superposition, the idea that a system can exist in multiple configurations simultaneously. Measuring the system then forces it to choose one of these configurations.

To produce the quantum equivalent of a coin toss, prepare a quantum state in a 50% “1” state and 50% “0” state, and then measure it. This will result in a “1” or a “0” outcome with equal probability. Performing this operation several times results in a string of 1s and 0s corresponding to a random key.

There are a number of commercially available quantum random number generators (QRNGs) that attempt to measure quantum processes like this. While such QRNGs may be entirely viable ways of producing random keys, there is a shortcoming related to their security. If an adversary were to tamper with the quantum states, or at least eavesdrop, how would one know? The output is simply 1s and 0s, and so it would be impossible to determine if this were secure or not.

This is not merely a hypothetical: “Quantum Hacker” Vadim Makarov demonstrated that he was able to influence the output of quantum tunneling by shining a flashlight on the photodetectors. A similar issue would occur if the performance of the QRNG degraded over time – something that is quite feasible in a complex device that relies on mirrors and lasers.

Are we then cursed to have this theoretically random-but-insecure means of producing cryptographic keys? Fortunately, quantum mechanics comes to the rescue once again.

Quantum physics is based on superposition, the idea that a system can exist in multiple configurations simultaneously. Measuring the system then forces it to choose one of these configurations.

Playing Dice with the Universe

Albert Einstein famously commented, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Apparently, He (or She) does, and in 1964 Irish physicist John Bell proved it.

Bell developed a mathematical method to distinguish quantum processes from classical ones. This was based on quantum entanglement, the idea that the quantum state of one particle can be correlated with another, even if physically separated. Entanglement is a purely quantum property with no classical counterpart.

By focusing on entanglement, Bell provided a precise means of identifying quantum (and therefore random) processes from classical (and therefore deterministic) processes. And since any tampering or eavesdropping would require classical means, Bell also provided a proof of the outcome’s security. There is no longer any trust in devices required, only fundamental physics.

New approaches to cryptographic key generation are being developed that build on this trustless entanglement technique. These approaches offer guarantees (and proof) that the keys are perfectly random in nature and haven’t been influenced by any attacker, quantum or otherwise. As we move toward a quantum future, technology like this will be critical to maintaining the security we enjoy today.

 

Quantum Cybersecurity
Duncan Jones
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Cambridge Quantum’s Technologies
John Bell