Cover: Supporting the Future Effectiveness of Post-Quantum Cryptography

Supporting the Future Effectiveness of Post-Quantum Cryptography

Published Nov 2, 2023

by Alvin Moon, Michael J. D. Vermeer

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Cryptography is the study of methods of secure communication, and its applications are ubiquitous in everyday life. Results from cryptography naturally enter policy discussions through issues of national defense. Despite its prevalence and importance, modern cryptography can be difficult for general audiences to understand because it is deeply rooted in technical ideas from theoretical and applied sciences.

The convergence of highly technical topics from cryptography with important policy objectives, such as cybersecurity, creates a need to understand recent developments in cryptography at a granular level. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has predicted that advancements in quantum computing will threaten certain communication technologies by overcoming modern protections against eavesdropping and unwanted viewing of secured messages. Determining the scope and severity of the threat is a problem for a broad audience of stakeholders.

The goal of this Perspective is to provide a focused view of the search for quantum-resistant cryptographic methods. The authors explain different avenues for securing communications from quantum attacks and argue that cryptographic research in the quantum era will benefit from open access to results. They conclude by identifying activities that policymakers can consider to positively influence the outcome of the pending postquantum cryptography migration.

Funding for this work was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from the operation of the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center (HSRD). This research was conducted by the Management, Technology, and Capabilities Program within HSRD.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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