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Quantum computing ups the ante for data security…exponentially

The era of Quantum-safe optical transport has arrived with Nokia

When data is compromised it’s costly and disruptive, resulting in lost revenue and damaged credibility to users and network operators alike. Threats continue to evolve and all corners of the networking landscape are potential targets for hackers. Data in-flight across optical networks is no exception.

Quantum computing ups the ante exponentially when it comes to data security. With processors that could work millions of times faster than the ones we use today with classical computing, the need for more robust encryption standards becomes paramount.

Securing data is not a static matter. With technology constantly evolving, and potential quantum computer attacks on the horizon, solutions need to keep ahead of threats. For some years now, data in-flight has been protected through the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-256 encryption. But not enough attention has been given to key strength and quality, intrusion detection, trust of supply and other measures that together ensure data integrity.

It’s impossible to predict where an attack may hit or how it will be executed. Attacks can take many forms including:

  • theft of data
  • outright network destruction
  • unauthorized tampering with network management
  • undetected malware insertion or data tapping and storage for later malicious use

Ways to raise the cryptographic bar

Protection against multiple threats requires multiple barriers. The best defense-in-depth approach is one that combines technologies such as encryption, intrusion detection, a trusted supply chain, network element management protection and other best practices. The International Organization for Standardization’s ISO27001 provides a strong framework for network operators to adopt these protections.

Data encryption scrambles data into unrecognizable streams that can only be unlocked by the intended recipient holding a valid key. Much like a door lock, encryption keys must be of high quality and strength, making it difficult for enemy computers to try all possible key combinations. Continued evolution of powerful quantum computers has led government agencies to raise the cryptographic bar.

Asymmetric key techniques, including Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) have provided good protection against hackers to date. But these mechanisms provide limited protection against emerging quantum computer attacks. Encryption must utilize quality keys, shared through methods that retain strength and are certified by independent bodies.

Symmetric key algorithms utilize a two-way transfer function and a random number generator for key creation. It’s computationally easy and leads to strong keys since accurately guessing the key is quite difficult. Centralized, symmetric key management offers stronger encryption and scale. Key strength is maintained and exceeds the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) recommendations for classified data. This approach also creates a single point of trust, minimizing key exposure to potential theft while also making it easier for the operator to consistently enforce policies.

First to attain ANSSI Quantum Safe certification

Nokia recently received QS level certification from French cyber security agency Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information (ANSSI) on our layer 1 transport solution. This is very significant, not just because it’s certified at the highest possible level, but also because it’s the only solution of its kind that is certified. In raising the bar to this new level of security it’s our hope that the industry follows closely behind. Because it’s in everyone’s interest to maintain the integrity of data and the health of networks on a global scale, especially in the face of ever-growing threats.

Nokia’s secure transport solutions will be on display now at the FIC conference, 23-24 January in Lille, France. Visit us or click here to learn more!

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #optical, #security

Chris Janson

About Chris Janson

Chris Janson is Senior Product Marketing Manager for optical networks, where he follows trends in optical networking technology and its application to finance, healthcare, utilities, government and educational network operators. Chris has held engineering and marketing roles in the communications equipment and semiconductor fields and has shared his work through many webinars, articles and videos. He also serves on the board of directors of the Rural Telecommunications Congress and the non-profit OpenCape Corporation. Chris holds an MBA from Boston University and Bachelor of Science in engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Tweet me at @cj01950

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