The US Government has been increasingly concerned about the quantum threat to national security, and this mounting apprehension is evident in the growing cadence of warnings and publications in recent years. From the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) Act in December 2018 to the White House National Cybersecurity Strategy in March 2023, the urgency of addressing quantum security risks has intensified.
A key data point showcasing this urgency is the surge in publications within a short timeframe. The number doubled from three between 2018 and early 2021, to six from 2021 to 2023. Informed by both public and classified data, the US Government’s accelerated quantum directives and legislation address the emerging threat.
Recent bipartisan efforts to fund quantum research and security highlight the seriousness of the situation. In a hyper-partisan era, politicians from both sides rallying behind quantum security initiatives underscores the need for swift, decisive action. This unusual consensus signals the US Government’s commitment to addressing potential quantum risks facing its citizens and businesses.
The provided list of publications emphasizes the government’s focus on quantum security and serves as a call to action for public and private sectors to confront the quantum threat. The US Government is raising awareness and taking active steps to develop strategies, standards, and technologies to counter these risks, making it clear that addressing the quantum threat is a priority that must not be overlooked.
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US Government Publications Related to Quantum Risk
National Quantum Initiative (NQI) Act
- “The purpose of this Act is to provide for a coordinated Federal program to accelerate quantum research and development for the economic and national security of the United States. …5) promoting the development of international standards for quantum information science and technology security- .” (Section 2(a)(2)), 21 December 2018
National Strategy for Quantum Information Science
- “The key next step will be to develop agency-level plans that address the identified approaches and policy opportunities in the next section, which will be integrated into an overall strategic plan. This will enable new opportunities on a ten-year horizon, possibly including: the development of quantum processors which may enable limited computing applications; new sensors for biotechnology and defense; next-generation positioning, navigation, and timing systems for military and commercial applications; new approaches to understanding materials, chemistry, and even gravity through quantum information theory; novel algorithms for machine learning and optimization; and transformative cyber security systems including quantum-resistant cryptography in response to developments in QIS.” (p. 6), December 2018
NISTIR 8309: Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization
- “In recent years, there has been steady progress in building quantum computers. If large-scale quantum computers are realized, they would threaten the security of many commonly-used public-key cryptosystems. Key-establishment schemes and digital signatures based on factoring, discrete logarithms, and elliptic curve cryptography will be the most severely affected.” (p. 1), January 2021
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Insights on Quantum Cryptography
- “When quantum computers reach higher levels of computing power and speed, they will be capable of breaking the public key cryptography algorithms that are in use today, threatening the security of business transactions, secure communications, digital signatures, and customer information.”
Executive Order 14028: Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity
- “The United States faces persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns that threaten the public sector, the private sector, and ultimately the American people’s security and privacy.” (Section 1), 12 May 2021
HR 7535 Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act
- “The rapid progress of quantum computing suggests the potential for adversaries of the United States to steal sensitive encrypted data today using classical computers, and wait until sufficiently powerful quantum systems are available to decrypt it.”, 18 April 2022
NSM-8 National Security Memorandum
- “In support of these goals, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, agencies that fund research in, develop, or acquire quantum computers shall coordinate with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to ensure a coherent national strategy for QIS promotion and technology protection, including for workforce issues.” 4 May 2022
Executive Order 14073 National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee
- “There is a need to provide for a coordinated Federal effort to advance quantum information science and technology, including research and development, and to promote the use of quantum technologies in various fields, including quantum computing and quantum cryptography.” (Section 1), 4 May 2022
NSM-10 on Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems
- “It directs specific actions for agencies to take as the United States begins the multi-year process of migrating vulnerable computer systems to quantum-resistant cryptograph.” 4 May 2022
White House National Cybersecurity Strategy (March 2023)
- “…quantum computing has the potential to break some of the most ubiquitous encryption standards deployed today. We must prioritize and accelerate investments in widespread replacement of hardware, software and services that can be compromised by quantum computers so that information is protected against future attack.” March 2023