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What is quantum cryptography and how will it impact the business landscape?

The dawn of quantum computing means more highly-evolved protection methods are necessary to fight an ever-growing security threat – enter quantum cryptography. Global Industry Analysts forecasts its global market to reach $2 billion by 2024, a growth which is primarily driven by an evolving need for the most secure online data transmission possible.

What is Quantum Cryptography?

Quantum cryptography harnesses the principles of quantum physics to make a message incomprehensible to anyone other than its intended recipient. This is specifically known as Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) – as with other types of encryption, a ‘key’ is necessary to decipher the contents.

What sets QKD apart from standard encryption is that keys are transmitted as photons – typically light particles – which means that if one is intercepted by a third party, the physics law of observation comes into play: to observe something is to change it. Particles can exist concurrently in more than one place and one state of being, only choosing how to behave when coming into contact with something else or being measured – so the key, likewise, changes itself instantly, becoming unreadable and, therefore, useless. This alteration also signals to the intended recipient that its contents have been compromised.

Who will it impact?

The threat to the integrity of encrypted data is a real issue now. Techniques like harvest and decrypt, where hackers scrape and store data until they have the capability to decrypt information with quantum computers, present a real challenge to businesses IT infrastructure. Currently secure data is technically already vulnerable to the hackers of the future. Whilst it could be some years before quantum computing is widely-utilised, with its costs currently restrictive, the race is on between hackers and cryptographers to who will be the best prepared.

Due to the very nature of taking proactive rather than reactive measures, predicting which sectors could be most affected by the darker side of quantum computing is difficult. It’s safe to say though that industries handling sensitive data on a large scale – like finance, healthcare and professional services – will remain prime targets. Businesses will also find themselves heavily impacted if they do not properly educate their staff on data security protocol – one person’s rash actions can still break the entire security chain, no matter how robust it is.

Quantum encryption has the ability to usher in a new age of ‘unhackable’ online communication – as long as businesses make the effort now to stay abreast of this upcoming technology.For more information on how to implement an IT infrastructure which protects your data, read our eBook here: Working on the edge: The future of mobile working

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