After we have collectively congratulated ourselves for the D-Wave folks producing what may be the first quantum processor-capable of solving computing problems 10,000 times faster than  conventional computers-we might want to put some serious brain power into thinking about what "solving computing problems 10,000 times faster" means for security, especially during the transition period between the conventional computing and wide-spread adoption of quantum computing.

 

If the initial offerings of the D-Wave processor can solve problems at 10,000 times the speed of conventional  computers, and we're not even 100% sure it is a quantum processor (hello, Schrödinger), what impact are these new, quantum (like) processors going to have on data security?

 

Even if quantum computing takes 10 or more years to be viable for businesses or governments, IT pros will still have to address security concerns around hackers with quantum computers. Assuming you have no plans or desire to migrate to quantum computing or leverage quantum computing in your organization, most people will need to either be involved in quantum security measures or be aware enough of quantum security measures to choose an appropriate third-party product. If you are part of an organization that collects private data, financial data, or medical data, you have sensitive information that you are obligated (usually by law) to protect. That is pretty much every organization that can afford an IT department.

 

As soon as criminals have access to quantum computers, conventional security wisdom and policies will no longer be viable because criminals will be able to breach security faster by multiple orders of magnitude. To combat that, the rest of us will basically be forced to invest in quantum security measures.

 

So, what will the future look like? Are security firms going to be the new IT rock stars, like Google, Apple, and Microsoft? Will new computers ship with biometric security devices? Will employers hand out smart cards?

 

While it is highly unlikely that we can know the future (going by the principles of quantum mechanics), the security field is definitely going to be impacted by this new technology.