Lawmaker Argues for Quantum-Level Security in a Pre-Quantum World

Even the top countries pursuing quantum technology are several years out from a viable quantum computer, but Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., has called on Congress to set standards today that will protect data against such technology in the future.

Set against the backdrop of large-scale hacks on critical U.S. infrastructure, such as the SolarWinds and the Colonial Oil Pipeline, leaders in the public and private industries are taking preemptive steps to protect networks from hackers using powerful quantum algorithms to access data stored on conventional computers systems. 

The hackers too, are looking to the future, capturing data that they can’t decrypt now, so they can put it to quantum-enabled encryption breaking software once it becomes available.

Mace and two other House lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation Monday, called the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, aimed at preparing the federal government’s networks for a large scale shift into post-quantum cryptography standards. 

“When it comes to cyber [security], when it comes to quantum computing…we need to make sure that we have a governmentwide strategy with regards to…quantum technology, quantum cryptography, you know, to secure our data and the data of people in our country,” Mace told Nextgov

She is one of the bill’s primary sponsors, along with Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Seeing cybersecurity as the new defense frontier, Mace regards her bill as vital preparation to help usher in the software upgrades needed to protect critical data infrastructure from being subject to quantum hacking. 

The bill would mandate regulatory agencies to craft a new federal approach to modernization and stay ahead of developing quantum technology. Part of this is setting new device standards through the National Institutes of Standards and Technology for both public and private entities to avoid falling victim to quantum decryption of sensitive digital information. 

“It’s really…understanding what the private sector challenges are, and where the government can be most helpful…in protecting that data and giving companies the resources that they need to combat what is happening by…