Preparing for Quantum Cryptography, US Air Force Partners with SandboxAQ

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Time is running out for public key encryption. With researchers anticipate that quantum computers will be able to crack public-key algorithms as early as 2030, organizations are under increasing pressure to find quantum-resistant algorithms to protect their data from malicious actors.

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One such organization is the United States Department of the Air Force, which today entered into a partnership with artificial intelligence and quantum security provider SandboxAQawarding the vendor a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 contract.

As part of the contract, the vendor will perform post-quantum crypto inventory analysis and performance benchmarking.

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More broadly, the Air Force’s partnership with SandboxAQ underscores that the threat of post-quantum computing is not just an abstract, theoretical threat, but a plausible risk that businesses must prepare to address now.

The Mandate of Quantum Cryptography

New partnership marks SandboxAQ’s first military contract since its inception swarmed from Alphabet in March earlier this year, and is part of the Air Force’s attempt to prepare for Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Readiness Actwhich forces US federal agencies to move to post-quantum encryption.

The announcement comes amid a surge after NIST chose four post-quantum encryption algorithms that will be part of its post-quantum encryption standard, and after Google Cloud announcement it deployed a post-quantum cryptographic algorithm to help secure its internal ALTS protocol.

While the momentum of post-quantum cryptography may seem speculative at first glance, the risks posed by quantum computing can be seen now. For instance, Harvest now decrypt later or store-now-decrypt-later attacks mean that state actors and cybercriminals can collect and store encrypted data today, to decrypt it later.

“US adversaries collect encrypted data with the intent to exploit it once they deploy quantum computers – these are known as ‘store now-decrypt-later’ attacks,” said Jen Sovada , public sector president at SandboxAQ.

If successful, these attacks would allow hackers to decrypt protected information at will.

“Quantum computers in the hands of adversarial nation-states could devastate U.S. national security if post-quantum cryptography, or PQC, is not implemented urgently. The deployment of PQC in systems national security is expected to take years and SandBoxAQ is proud to support the Air Force in this critical first step,” Sovada said.

The quantum crypto market

SandboxAQ is under the quantum crypto marketwhich researchers estimate will grow from a value of $102.34 million in 2021 to $476.83 million by 2030, with a CAGR of 18.67% as more companies are looking to prepare for Y2Q.

As the market grows, other post-quantum vendors like PQShieldName are also generating significant interest, raising $20 million in Series A funding earlier this year, offering enterprises on-chip and cloud-based cryptography. This includes IoT firmware, public key infrastructure, server technologies, and end user applications.

It should be noted that PQShield researchers also contributed to the development of each of the first international PQC NIST standards.

Another promising vendor in the space is Post-quantumwhich provides a quantum-safe end-to-end encrypted messaging application, a post-quantum VPN, and a quantum-ready multi-factor biometric identity system for passwordless login. According CrunchbasePost-Quantum has raised $11.2 million to date.

SandboxAQ’s partnership with the US Air Force and its plans to forge new relationships in the public sector will help position it as one of the most “battle-tested” post-quantum crypto providers on the market.

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