What is Cryptography?
Cryptography is devoted to keeping data and communications secure. It is a field at the core of information and communication technologies and combines mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering. Individuals and organizations around the world depend on the ability to ensure data and communications systems are secure and reliable. Information security allows users to access services, verify the identities of other users and organizations, and authenticate the origin and integrity of software and other data.
For example, every time an online transaction occurs, such as a purchase or a bank transfer, users authenticate their identities with each other, verify permissions to access specific services and products, and communicate data entrusted to a secure encryption system. This process is enabled by secret passwords, communication protocols, and an encryption system based on mathematical problems believed to be too difficult for present-day computers to "crack." These systems protect us from security threats such as viruses, fraud, and identity theft. Staying on the cutting-edge of the next generation of cryptographic technologies and threats is critical to maintaining our security.
However, future technologies, such as quantum computers, will be able to decrypt many of these coded messages and threaten the security of less advanced protocols. When these quantum technologies emerge, a new generation of cryptographic tools will be needed in order to be secure against these threats.
The security of most modern cryptography tools rely on the assumed difficulty of specific mathematical problems. To build confidence in the resistance of these tools to quantum attacks, these mathematical problems will need to be intensely scrutinized.
Quantum communication tools and quantum computing technology can exploit phenomena that are impossible to replicate using classical methods. These classically-impossible methods can be used to build cryptographic tools whose security relies on the laws of physics instead of assumptions about the hardness of specific mathematical problems.
Quantum technologies will revolutionize computation, communication, and sensing, including the way information is secured. Developing and integrating quantum-safe tools into global solutions will drive economic growth and prosperity, and provide more robust cyber-security world-wide.