Addressing future cybersecurity challenges with quantum technologies

The European Space Agency has commissioned a consortium of European companies to develop quantum communication technologies between space and earth.

Called « TeQuantS », the project, for which Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor, will develop quantum technologies for cybersecurity applications and future quantum information networks. 

What is a quantum computer?

Quantum computing has been booming for several years.

A quantum computer works with qbits that can take on a multitude of values between 0 and 1, whereas a classical computer only works with bits that are only worth 0 or 1.

« This allows the quantum computer to achieve exceptional computing power and will make it possible to solve certain problems that cannot be solved by a classical computer. For example, it will be able to carry out complex modelling in the field of medicine or chemistry, but it will also be able to « break » encryption codes. The RSA algorithm – one of the two most widely used algorithms in computer security – would be vulnerable to a quantum computer. Quantum computing and computer security are closely linked » Cyrille Laborde, Head of optical and quantum communications at Thales Alenia Space.

At the same time, research is looking into an ‘internet’ network that would allow the exchange of quantum information between two computers. While it is already possible to send quantum information over a short distance, long-range communications seem more complex to implement.

To meet these challenges, Europe has decided to launch the TeQuantS project to develop quantum technologies for cybersecurity applications and future quantum information networks.

A consortium of several European companies has been set up. At the head of this project is the Franco-Italian company Thales Alenia Space “Satellites are today viewed as the best bet for long-distance quantum communications, as ground-based fiber-optic links directly transmitting quantum information are limited to a range of about 150 kilometers”.

At present, quantum computing and systems are still in the development stage. The future will tell whether this type of computer will replace our conventional computers in the near future!

*An asymmetric cryptographic algorithm used in electronic commerce and more generally to exchange confidential data on the Internet.

*  TeQuantS : Technological development for space-based Quantum reSource distribution