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Securing information in the age of supercomputers

An ‘Iron Dome for data’ from Israeli startup QuantLR protects information using Einstein’s principles of quantum mechanics

Prof. Hagai Eisenberg, world-renowned expert on quantum computing and Chief Scientist at QuantLR, explains the principles of quantum to an audience at the Hebrew University. (Hebrew University)
Prof. Hagai Eisenberg, world-renowned expert on quantum computing and Chief Scientist at QuantLR, explains the principles of quantum to an audience at the Hebrew University. (Hebrew University)

When Israel’s next astronaut goes into space this winter, the latest cybersecurity equipment from Israeli startup QuantLR will be on board.

As part of his mission to the International Space Station, astronaut and former fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe will demonstrate how QuantLR’s unique technology can help secure information traveling between satellites and networks on earth.

With a growing number of satellites relaying data back and forth to Earth, securing these connections is becoming increasingly important, especially with the coming of quantum computers, which will be able to break through current encryption methods in minutes, explains Shlomi Cohen, CEO and cofounder of QuantLR.

“We are creating a new way to defend data,” Cohen says. “It’s like an Iron Dome for data,” he adds, referring to Israel’s well-known air defense system.

New security technology like QuantLR’s are a key part of the rapidly growing quantum computer market, expected to be worth more than $400 million globally by 2026, according to Global Industry Analysts Inc.

Most data sent over networks today, including those involving satellites, is secured by complex mathematical-based encryption systems, whereby information is scrambled and then deciphered by the sending and receiving devices. While today’s computers would take years to decode such encryption, experts say that in the future, quantum computers will be able to break these codes in seconds, leaving information easily vulnerable to hackers.

Cannot decode

QuantLR is solving this emerging problem with a method based on the principles of quantum mechanics developed by Albert Einstein more than 50 years ago. The company has developed a way to encrypt information in particles of light, which even the fastest computers cannot decode.

“Math is hard to break,” Cohen says. “But not for quantum computers. Physics, however, is impossible to break.”

Although QuantLR’s product is not yet on the market, the company has developed a number of partnerships to fine-tune its technology and expects it to be commercially available next year. In addition to the Ramon Foundation, which is helping sponsor Stibbe’s mission to space, the company is working with Singapore-based SpeQtral, which focuses on space-based quantum communications, and Elta Systems Ltd., an Israel Aircraft Industries company, which develops advanced electronics.

Beyond space, Cohen says the company will focus on fintech, water and electricity utilities, 5G networks, and other sectors involving massive transfer of data.

“We focus on data in motion, not data at rest,” Cohen says.

Although widespread adoption of quantum computers is still years away, so-called quantum-safe security solutions are beginning to emerge.

Recently, Switzerland-based ID Quantique launched one of the first commercially available quantum-safe cybersecurity systems.

Single photon

QuantLR’s security replaces math-based encryption with quantum key distribution, in which random bits are encoded on a single photon. The photons are transmitted by way of fiber optic cable, free-space optics, satellite links, or other ways of transmitting targeted light. The nature of photons on the quantum level is that if someone attempts to copy or examine the photon, it changes the superposition of the qubit and the information it carries, exposing the interception.

“Quantum key distribution is poised to play a central role in tomorrow’s cryptographic and communications infrastructure,” says Chune Yang Lum, CEO of SpeQtral, one of QuantLR’s partners.

The technology does not need to wait for quantum computers to become the standard, Cohen says.

“These solutions are just better, even when quantum computers are not involved, just because they are pretty much impossible for hackers to break,” he says.

Cohen says that QuantLR’s technology stands out for its low cost and ease of use.

“It’s 10 times less expensive than other solutions,” he says. “And it’s not quite plug and play, but we will reach this level soon.”

He expects demand to grow, especially with cyberattacks on the rise. The impending arrival of quantum computers will make the majority of existing security solutions useless.

“There is some kind of education process still underway,” Cohen says. “But all the giants and governments are starting to realize the need, that quantum technology is coming.”

For information about investing in QuantLR through OurCrowd, click HERE

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