Will quantum computing revolutionise cybersecurity? IBM says yes
The world of cybersecurity has seen rapid advancements over the past decade, as technology permeates more and more aspects of commercial and consumer life. The proliferation of endpoints brought about by the rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) has created an infinitely larger number of ways for cyber threats to enter a company’s network.
Cloud centric cybersecurity firm ExtraHop reported recently that, in 2018, the average dwell time (the time a cyber threat has access to a company’s network before striking) had risen to an average of 101 days, “and that’s just the average. Many organizations have discovered threats that had lurked in their environments for years before being discovered,” writes ExtraHop cybersecurity professional Chase Snyder.
With the industry leading enterprises reeling from one major cyber breach after another, cybersecurity experts are turning to an emerging element of IT, in the hope that it can provide the edge they need against everything from nation state sponsored hackers to Anonymous.
Quantum computers (that use qubits - bits that can exist in multiple states, as opposed to the 1 or 0 that binary can achieve) are exponentially more powerful than the most advanced modern supercomputers. The implication is that quantum computers could “lead to new breakthroughs in science, life-saving medical advances, and financial strategies to live well in retirement. Algorithms could even quickly direct emergency services such as ambulances,” says a collaborative report between The European Sting and the World Economic Forum.
However, the application that has businesses and governments investing billions of dollars in the technology is its ability to overcome traditional encryption.
We find ourselves in the midst of a new arms race. The cybersecurity company that harnesses the power of quantum computing before anyone else will be a great deal closer to making their systems impenetrable, and getting that dwell time number of days a lot closer to the holy grail of zero. The hacker who gets their hands on quantum computing technology first will be able to waltz into the most secure systems on the planet, even potentially cracking blockchain encryption and doing everything from stealing the most secure information on the planet to destabilising the cryptocurrency market. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
As one of the largest and most innovative software companies in history, IBM have their horse firmly in the race. IBM first made quantum computers available through its public cloud in May 2016 with the IBM Q Experience platform. As of today, users have executed more than 28mn experiments and simulations on the quantum cloud platform and published over 180 third-party research papers. IBM Q is one of the world’s most advanced quantum computing initiatives, focused on propelling the science and pioneering commercial applications for quantum advantage.
The company made an announced today that may be the next big step in the race to a quantum cyber secure future. IBM is announcing that it will begin to provide “quantum-safe cryptography services” on the IBM public cloud in 2020 and is now offering a Quantum Risk Assessment from IBM Security to help customers assess their risk in the quantum world.
"IBM Cloud is taking the critical steps needed to help enterprises ensure their data stays secure in a quantum future," said Harish Grama, general manager, IBM Cloud. "Starting in 2020, IBM Cloud will roll out new services that will help keep data secure and private from the emerging cybersecurity challenges presented by future quantum computers."
The technology IBM is deploying is awe inspiring in its scope. "In order to prepare for the impact that quantum computers are expected to have on data security, IBM Research has been developing cryptographic algorithms that are designed to be resistant to the potential security concerns posed by quantum computers," said Vadim Lyubashevsky, cryptographer, IBM Research. "Our jointly developed quantum-safe algorithms, part of a lattice cryptography suite called CRYSTALS, are based on the hardness of mathematical problems that have been studied since the 1980's and have not succumbed to any algorithmic attacks, either classical or quantum. This is why we have made our algorithms open source and have submitted them to NIST for standardization."
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.