• September 27, 2023

Effective Cybersecurity Needs Quantum Communication

Although the US government has invested $ 80 billion in cybersecurity over the past five years, it has failed to detect, let alone prevent, a formidable Russian cyber aggression. Sensitive agencies and private networks have been compromised. As the Biden administration decides how to tactically react, a strategic question arises: How can the US achieve reliable cybersecurity?

The cyber realm is “criminal dominant”: Hacking into networks is easier, faster and cheaper than protecting or patching. Most networks are designed to allow the exchange of information, making it difficult and potentially self-destructive to prevent access. The cost of network attacks doubles every few years and could reach $ 6 trillion this year, although annual global investments in cybersecurity have doubled from $ 80 billion to $ 160 billion since 2016. These investments bring ever lower returns. The hackers win.

The expansion of remote working, which is likely to continue, has made the problem worse. In April 2020, the FBI reported that cyber crime has increased by up to 300% since the pandemic began. Hackers enjoy increased network traffic on insecure home computers.

The US has finally realized that retaliation in kind could deter Russian cyberattacks. However, when deterrence fails, escalation is dangerous. How then can we protect cyberspace from increasing threats? With the technology available, we probably can’t.

One solution can lie in quantum technology.


Physics explains the behavior of the smallest “quanta” of mass and energy. A quantum phenomenon is that a particle, like a photon, can become entangled with another particle over any distance. Entangled particles or “qubits” can have many values ​​from 0 to 1, while digital bits can only be 0 or 1. The extraordinary sensitivity of qubits shows interference immediately and infallibly. They would alert us if hackers read, copy, or corrupt transmitted bits.

Although practical quantum computers are years away, digital computers can be networked with secure quantum connections. This offers the prospect of an unhackable quantum internet that will be broadcast onto today’s digital internet with secure links. This would not require an overhaul of the internet infrastructure and the costs would be borne primarily by users who seek security.

At this time, secure quantum communications range does not cover the hundreds or more miles that most networks are expected to operate, despite US and Canadian scientists sending qubits over 27 miles of fiber optic cable in December. China has achieved long-range transmission via the world’s only quantum communications satellite. While Russia is more aggressive in cyber war, China is aiming for global superiority in quantum technology.

Quantum communication is not a panacea. Even when network connections are secured, other vulnerabilities remain, such as: These include poor access controls, malware-laden computers, and supply chain disruptions. The day will also come when quantum computers make it easier to break encryption. Quantum communication would be all the more important to ensure encryption.

Some readers will recall the shock of Sputnik, the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957. More importantly, it is important to remember the US reaction: a dozen years later, an American was the first to take a step on the moon. The stakes are as high and the lesson as relevant as it is today.

The Biden administration should declare that the US intends to achieve cybersecurity with a quantum internet. In order to achieve this, expenditure on quantum research should be doubled from USD 1 billion to USD 2 billion per year, obstacles to the defense work of private quantum companies should be removed, agencies and departments should be entrusted with planning quantum research and the organization of the North Atlantic Treaty should be asked to participate work together to keep an eye out for the Russian threat. This would encourage companies from Google-sized to garage-sized to invest, hire, and organize for rapid quantum communications development. The quantum market, now only $ 500 million, would explode if it offered cybersecurity.

Microsoft’s president called the Russian hack a “moment of reckoning,” which requires a more effective response from government and industry. The quantum internet should be the centerpiece.

Mr. Gompert is an advisor to Ultratech Capital Partners and a visiting professor at the US Naval Academy. He was Deputy Director of the National Intelligence Service in 2010.

Journal Editorial Report: The Best and the Worst of the Week by Kim Strassel, Bill McGurn, Mary O’Grady, and Dan Henninger. Images: SpaceX / Shutterstock / AFP / Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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