As hacking attempts – successful and unsuccessful – continuing to grow, Verizon is examining a technology that the carrier thinks might have promise in protecting data from breach attempts.
The hacking issue is of particular concern to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that operate telecom networks and other critical infrastructure (energy, financial, water), with three quarters of these firms suffering at least one breach, according to a report from USTelecom — The Broadband Association.
So Verizon is testing how a Quantum Safe Virtual Private Network (VPN) may be able to improve data protection. Once quantum computers become more advanced and more common place, they will have the potential to break today’s public key encryption ciphers.
Though that is a future issue, hackers can plant the seeds today to exploit that technology by capturing current data and archiving it until quantum computers have the power to break the encryption. The Quantum Safe VPN is designed to thwart such a strategy by using key exchange security mechanisms or cryptographic ciphers that can provide an enhanced level of protection.
Verizon said it had successfully tested how a Quantum Safe VPN can replace the current public key encryption methods to establish encryption keys using Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) in a recent trial. In the test, keys (ciphers) were exchanged between two private 5G networks located in Verizon’s 5G Lab in London and its Executive Briefing Center in Ashburn, VA.
“The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on a global effort to find PQC algorithms that will be fast and trustworthy, but finalization and integration of the NIST PQC standards may take many years,” Verizon said in a press release.
“Verizon continues to innovate and test new quantum technologies because now is the time to assess risks of security breaches and develop mitigation strategies to ensure safe networks and communications in the future for consumers and enterprises,” said Jean McManus, Verizon executive director of applied research, in a prepared statement. “While it may be 5 to 10 years before quantum computers are powerful enough to break today’s encryption used in e-commerce and VPNs, it’s important to explore new security methods today to ensure our information is safe down the road.”