By: Inyoung Park
Many companies, large or start-up, are recognizing the potential of quantum technology. Quantum technology is based on quantum mechanics that study the movements of subatomic particles. Unlike other particles that follow Newtonian physics, the quantum system differs in that the particles can be in superposition and exhibit entanglement, for example. Superposition means that objects can “exist in multiple states at the same time.” whereas entanglement means that two particles replicate each other’s moves even when they are apart.
Quantum computing is using quantum technology to reach a fast speed. Ordinary computers today convert information into binary digits, also called bits. Each bit only has two possible values: zero and one. However, a combination of these binary digits allow computer processing text documents to provide a web-based service. Like ordinary computers, quantum computers translate information into bits called qubits. The difference is that, unlike normal bits, qubits do not have to choose either zero or one: they can also be “in a state where it is both [values] at the same time” based on superposition. This unique property of qubits allows quantum computers to be faster, store more information, and work multiple calculations simultaneously.
Despite the benefits advanced technology quantum computing can bring, it is not without its faults. It, for example, still requires a way for qubits to operate in higher temperatures, and an ability to withstand and operate normally even after electrical disturbance. When quantum computers are fully developed in the future, it is expected to be powerful enough to break through most of the encryption present today. Current encryption systems rely on large prime numbers since today’s computers have a hard time factoring these large numbers to break the encryption. However, quantum computers can, potentially, break them all and jeopardize the security of digital data. For this reason, the legal system has to adapt to the changing technology system to protect digital information.
Regulations such as Article 5 of the European Union’s General Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and the Cybersecurity Act require personal data to be stored with appropriate security and protection against unauthorized users. However, there is new legislation available that would prevent victims of quantum computing from being placed at fault at times where new technology and the COVID-19 pandemic increased their risk of cybersecurity.
At least 45 states and Puerto Rico have introduced more than 250 bills or resolutions dealing with cybersecurity. Legislative activity includes measures “requiring government agencies to implement cybersecurity training, to set up and follow formal security policies, standards, and practices, and to plan for and test how to respond to a security incident.” They also mentioned creating task forces specifically to study and advise on matters of cybersecurity issues.
Senators also have drafted a bill to require public and private entities to report cybersecurity violations within 24 hours of a breach to the government. President Biden stated that to ensure cybersecurity, the private sector must “partner with the Federal Government to foster a more secure cyberspace.” Since there is no single federal standard regarding cybersecurity breach notification, the passage of the bill can provide a platform for a unified procedure in dealing with the problem.
There is an effort to also strengthen the connection between the national cybersecurity chain with state and local governments. President Biden has stressed providing significant investments to defend against cybersecurity, rather than incremental improvements. State and local governments generally do not have the same resources to dedicate to cybersecurity protection as private companies and federal agencies, as these groups typically have more money to protect their networks against cybersecurity. However, Congress recently provided $360 billion to states to increase their spending on cybersecurity. But the amount can increase under the new legislation that is getting drafted, which aims to provide as much as $500 million to states and local governments annually for them to continuously monitor networks.
President Biden has responded with an executive order on “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity” to keep pace with the ever-changing technology. It stated that “the Federal Government must adopt security best practices; advance toward Zero Trust Architecture; accelerate movement to secure cloud services; . . . and invest in both technology and personnel to match these modernization goals.” Since the drafting of legislation and execution of the executive order all occurred in early 2021, more time is needed to see the outcomes and effects on cybersecurity.
In 2018, Arvind Krishna, a director of IBM Research, warned that “anyone that wants to make sure that their data is protected for longer than 10 years should move to alternate forms of encryption now.” However, there wasn’t known legislation or policies on the requirement of minimum or maximum encryption strength in the past.
Today, there are studies to find strong encryption methods to prepare for quantum computing. For example, encryption method can increase the key size and expand the space that the system must search through to find the key to unlock the encryption. Researching and transferring the computing program to a new, safe encryption method will take a lot of money because the process is large-scaled and time consuming. The United States government has sought to find quantum-safe encryption methods for government use through the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST also developed quantum cryptography standards private sectors can adopt to develop quantum-safe encryption.
Quantum Computing can provide many benefits to society, but it can do so only if the legal system is equipped to provide cybersecurity. The legislative and executive branches recognize the fast-growing problems quantum computing can impose on cybersecurity and are actively suggesting ways to create protective measures against cyber danger, finance and the protection of encryption. Cybersecurity matters for everyone. People should follow to see if quantum computing can destroy encryption method and how law can develop to protect cybersecurity in danger.
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