With the era of quantum computing growing closer every day, the way we protect information and secure communications is changing, requiring more modern and sophisticated cybersecurity solutions. It’s easy for confusion to arise amidst all the different terms out there, but it’s important for organizations to understand the distinctions in order to prepare for the imminent quantum era with the right strategies to secure data now and into the future.
In this blog, we’ll break down the key differences between two emerging cybersecurity solutions for the quantum age: quantum encryption and post-quantum cryptography.
Quantum Encryption vs Post-Quantum Cryptography
The time is coming when a viable quantum computer will be able to use Shor’s algorithm to break current public-key cryptography, putting critical infrastructure at risk. Individuals are already intercepting and storing encrypted data now to be decrypted when such a time comes.
This has created an increased interest in the development of quantum-safe data security solutions to protect against these threats.
Quantum encryption is one such solution — it’s a method of securing communications that makes use of the principles of quantum mechanics to encrypt and transmit data in such a way that makes it unbreakable.
One of the most well-known example of quantum encryption is quantum key distribution (QKD), which uses the properties of quantum states, such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and quantum entanglement to ensure that encryption keys cannot be intercepted or duplicated without detection.
A secret, random key is encoded on a stream of single photons, which are sent over a communication channel. Because the properties of quantum states can be affected by attempts to measure them, any attempt to eavesdrop on the transmission or intercept the key will disrupt the photons, enabling detection by the sender and receiver on either end.
Because quantum encryption relies on the laws of physics rather than mathematical problems, it can remain secure even with the exponentially greater speed and power of quantum computers. It is thus considered to be more secure than traditional encryption methods in that it is resistant to all known forms of attack, including those that exploit quantum computers, however, it requires specialized hardware and technology and has limited practical application currently.
Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is a method of securing communications that uses mathematical algorithms that are believed to be resistant to attacks by quantum computers.
The security of traditional cryptographic algorithms is based on the assumption that certain mathematical problems are hard to solve, such as factoring large integers. However, it is believed that a sufficiently powerful quantum computer will be able to solve these problems efficiently, even in a matter of seconds, making traditional cryptographic methods vulnerable to attacks.
The main goal of post-quantum cryptography is to find cryptographic methods that are secure against both classical and quantum computers. This is achieved by using mathematical problems that couldn’t be solved even with quantum processing power.
One important aspect of PQC is that it can be implemented using standard digital devices, and can be used with classical communication channels and storage systems. However, post-quantum cryptography is still a relatively new and developing field; the security of these new methods has not yet been fully proven, and thus they are not yet widely adopted and used in practice.
Still, progress is happening — the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced four quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms in July 2022 from which a standard for all post-quantum cryptography will be established, expected in 2024. This will prove an important step toward post-quantum cryptography’s widespread usage in practical applications.
In Summary — The Key Differences
- Quantum encryption uses the principles of quantum mechanics to secure communications, while post-quantum cryptography uses mathematical algorithms that are believed to be secure against quantum computers.
- Quantum encryption is based on the properties of quantum states, such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and quantum entanglement, while post-quantum cryptography is based on mathematical problems that are believed to be hard for quantum computers to solve.
- Quantum encryption is generally considered to be more secure than post-quantum cryptography, as it is resistant to all known forms of attack, including those that exploit quantum computers.
- Post-quantum cryptography is still being developed and standardized, while quantum encryption is already being used in practice in some limited applications.
- Quantum encryption requires the use of specialized hardware, such as quantum key distribution (QKD) systems, while post-quantum cryptography can be implemented using standard digital devices.
Enterprise-Ready, Quantum-Resistant Data Security
As quantum encryption and post-quantum cryptography continue to develop, organizations can take advantage now of existing quantum-resistant encryption solutions that are revolutionizing data security.
Theon Technology utilizes patented, quantum-resistant algorithms to deliver on the promise of a truly scalable, commercially viable, one-time pad inspired security solution without the need for specialized hardware.
Theon Software Development Toolkit — TheonSDK™ — delivers enterprise-ready, quantum-resistant encryption tools now, including TheonRNG™ and TheonEncrypt™.
TheonRNG™, Theon’s Random Number Generator, generates high-entropy keys at scale with speed and economy, designed to frustrate the twin challenges of mathematical advances and quantum processing power. And because TheonRNG™ is software-based, computing hardware and processing power required to support key generation can be adjusted as needed, unlike hardware-based RNGs that require greater power and physical resources to support effective cryptography.
TheonEncrypt™ harnesses the power of the unbeatable cryptographic standard, the One Time Pad. Solving for the problem of large and unwieldy OTP files, TheonEncrypt™ reduces the bandwidth required to support OTP key transmission, making it feasible across more use cases.
With these patented technologies, Theon Technology is setting a new standard for software-based cryptography, delivering a next-generation, game-changing solution for organizations looking to fortify their data security as we head into the quantum age.
Ready for a paradigm shift in data encryption? Reach out to a Theon expert today to get started with quantum-resistant data security for your enterprise. We also have free eBooks available for download, including our latest, The Big Clock, which outlines the urgency for updated cryptography with a rundown of the best quantum-resistant encryption solutions available.