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    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    New Article: Protecting Military 5G Communication Networks with Quantum-Resistant Encryption

    ByByron Bekker

    Nov 17, 2023
    New Article: Protecting Military 5G Communication Networks with Quantum-Resistant Encryption

    Introducing cutting-edge advancements in communication networks, NATO member countries have undertaken the initiative to safeguard military 5G communication networks from potential hacking by adversaries armed with powerful quantum computers. A recent exercise, named 2023 Next-Generation Communication Network Technologies, held at a test site in Latvia, showcased various systems capable of facilitating multi-domain operations. This entails the seamless coordination of land, air, naval, space, and cyberspace assets in military campaigns.

    The demonstration focused on enhancing command-and-control capabilities through the implementation of virtual reality, secure post-quantum encryption, and sensor fusion for enhanced situation awareness. These innovations aim to bolster the security and efficiency of military operations while adapting to the evolving landscape of cyber threats. The term “quantum-resistant encryption” has emerged to describe these advanced security measures, developed specifically to counter the potential risks posed by quantum computers.

    Scientists have long warned about the vulnerability of common encryption algorithms used to protect military hardware and intelligence operations against the growing power of quantum computers. To address this concern, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) released a set of future quantum-resistant algorithm requirements for national security systems. Acknowledging the advancements in quantum computing by international actors, the report urged industries to proactively prepare and budget for a transition to more secure encryption methods.

    In line with this urgency, NATO governments have also begun testing post-quantum solutions. In 2022, the NATO Cyber Security Centre successfully conducted tests using a virtual private network (VPN) provided by the British firm Post-Quantum for secure transmission flows. VPNs utilize various algorithms to ensure that only authorized recipients can access and decipher the transmitted data. Furthermore, NATO allies have explored quantum key distribution, a technique that enables the exchange of encryption keys exclusively known to the communicating parties, rendering eavesdropping virtually impossible.

    Key to this effort, a NATO Science for Peace & Security (SPS) project in 2022 aimed to establish a prototype secure quantum communications undersea link between Malta and Italy. This groundbreaking initiative utilized submarine fiber-optic cables, pioneering secure quantum communication capabilities in this region for the first time.

    While quantum computing technology is still in its early stages, military organizations and the defense industry recognize the importance of acting swiftly to identify and address algorithm vulnerabilities before they become widespread. By embracing these advancements and employing quantum-resistant encryption, military 5G communication networks can be fortified against potential threats, ensuring the utmost security for critical operations and intelligence.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is quantum-resistant encryption?

    Quantum-resistant encryption refers to advanced security measures designed to protect sensitive information against potential threats posed by advancements in quantum computing. It aims to safeguard communication networks and encryption algorithms from being compromised by powerful quantum computers.

    What are multi-domain operations?

    Multi-domain operations refer to the integration and coordination of land, air, naval, space, and cyberspace assets in military campaigns. It allows for seamless collaboration and engagement across various domains to enhance mission effectiveness.

    How does quantum key distribution work?

    Quantum key distribution involves the exchange of encryption keys between authorized parties using quantum communication methods. This technique ensures that only the intended recipient can decipher the transmitted message, making eavesdropping virtually impossible.

    – NATO
    – U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)