researchHQ’s Key Takeaways:
- Quantum computing will help take artificial intelligence to new heights, making current-day encryption practices obsolete.
- Despite its benefits, 5G technology also increases an organisation’s exposure to various cyber security risks such as Mobile Network mapping and Man-in-the-middle attacks.
- The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) optimizes outcomes but fosters insecurity security due to the lack of visibility and control over security policies.
It goes without saying that innovations and trends in technology have a direct impact on digital security. Just look at what happened with COVID-19. As organizations switched their workforces to remote connectivity, many security teams shifted their attention to deploying enterprise-wide VPNs and partnering with employees to harden their home networks/devices. These tasks could consume an even greater share of infosec professionals’ time if organizations allow their employees to continue to work from home in a post-COVID world.
A boom in remote working isn’t the only force that’s helping to shape the future digital security. In fact, three other innovations and trends are playing a part. Those factors are quantum computing, 5G mobile technology and the IT-OT convergence.
As noted by WIRED, quantum computers leverage a new mode of computing based on qubits instead of bits. These units are more “flexible” than bits in that they can be on, off or “superposed” between the two. They’re also entangled to the extent that particles are physically linked together even though they’re physically separate.
These properties allow quantum computers to move information around and to perform tasks quicker and more efficiently than ordinary computers. The possibilities for quantum computing are therefore endless. Indeed, scientists could use quantum computing to take artificial intelligence to new heights. They could also develop new materials, find cures to diseases and fundamentally change life in other ways.
Quantum computing isn’t quite there yet. But scientists have already made significant progress. Back in October 2019, for instance, researchers in UC Santa Barbara used 53 entangled qubits to solve a problem that would have taken 10,000 years on a classical supercomputer. This task took just 200 seconds on their quantum computer. Just a few months after this breakthrough, IBM Research Director Dario Gil explained to Scientific American that quantum computing would one day rest on “a quantum app store and a line of code” instead of quantum programming.
Unfortunately, not all is rosy with quantum computers. Paul Ferrillo and George Platsis explain that this emergent model of computing is problematic for encryption in particular:
Quantum computing will make current day encryption practices obsolete. The traditional Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) system used can easily come crashing down when public keys become vulnerable to attack by quantum machines. Instead of years to decipher codes, we could be down to minutes or even instantly. That changes life pretty darn dramatically. Just imagine all those security certificates issued for websites, emails and digital signatures to validate authentication becoming obsolete in a matter of minutes.
That’s not to say any of that will happen. But it does raise questions on how the security community will prevent it. Ferrillo and Platsis noted that cryptography experts could leverage Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), a process which uses quantum physics to build an encryption key. Other limitations play a factor; it remains to be seen exactly how the security community will address this issue.
5G Mobile Technology
The term “5G” is short for fifth-generation cellular wireless, as noted by PCMag. The main benefit of 5G is its ability to deliver “high-band,” short-range airwaves. When combined with its other benefits including increased availability and network capacity, 5G promises to deliver higher speeds and lower latency than any wireless service before it. Such outcomes could help to revolutionize the ways in which machines, objects and devices connect to one another. As Qualcomm rightly noted, “Higher performance and improved efficiency empower new user experiences and connects new industries.”