New Collaboration To Make Quantum Security Real

Image credit: iStockphoto/sakkmesterke

A key advantage of quantum computing is that it can perform massive calculations in a few seconds more efficiently.

Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) and Thales think that it has a future in cybersecurity. QEP is an initiative by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and is hosted at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Both organizations recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jumpstart a two-year partnership to develop and test quantum technologies for commercial applications jointly.

The partnership aims to explore quantum technologies and prepare the industry for their adoption. Experts from both organizations will test and evaluate interdisciplinary quantum security technologies.

In addition, the organizations will also explore potential research collaboration opportunities in the fields of new materials and design for quantum sensing. They will share the outcomes in seminars and conferences.

The projects under the collaboration span technologies for security and sensing and involve QEP researchers across Singapore’s institutes of higher learning and research centers. 

“Singapore’s drive in quantum technologies is creating exciting opportunities for the nation’s digital economy. Building on this momentum, QEP’s partnership with Thales, a forerunner in the quantum revolution, will accelerate the innovation and development of quantum solutions that are commercially attractive locally and globally. The success of this collaboration will also bolster Singapore’s attractiveness as a testbed and springboard for deploying new quantum technologies,” said Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS’ deputy president for research & technology.

Thales makes its SafeNet Luna Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) and high-speed network encryptors that support interfaces to quantum devices available for research use as part of the agreement. The algorithms and quantum random number generation technology will help develop quantum-safe crypto and combat the threats of quantum computing. This equipment would be deployed for proof-of-concept trials and testbeds in Singapore.

The MoU follows Thales’ launch of the network encryption solution in May 2021. The company claims that the solution can protect enterprise data from future quantum cyber-attacks. According to the company materials, the solution supplements standard encryption with a scheme resistant to quantum computing that is under consideration for international standards.

“Quantum technologies open almost infinite possibilities for the future, and our researchers see real potential in three types of quantum applications, namely in sensors, communications, and post-quantum cryptology. Thales has a rich heritage in research and technology in Singapore, and being part of the QEP is a strong testament to our collaborative approach towards using quantum technologies to solve real-world end-user challenges. While this initial partnership involves our network encryption technology to provide crypto-agility and cybersecurity, we continue to work with the R&T ecosystem in Singapore to explore new topics, including using novel materials for quantum sensing or in secured communications in quantum technologies,” said Kevin Chow, Thales’ country director and chief executive in Singapore.

The joint team of scientists and engineers will also develop devices that tap on quantum physics for higher performance, which is an area of focus under Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan (RIE2025 Plan).

“Quantum communications and security, as well as quantum devices and instrumentation, are two significant focus areas under the QEP. This MOU will enable like-minded organizations like Thales to collaborate with our public sector research performers to translate their capabilities into impactful next-generation quantum technologies for application in the industry,” said Ling Keok Tong, NRF’s director for Smart Nation and Digital Economy.

There is rising global interest in quantum technologies in Singapore and in France, where Thales is headquartered. In France, a Quantum Plan announced by French President Emmanuel Macron in January 2021 dedicated EUR1.8 billion towards developing quantum technologies. In Singapore, the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at NUS has been building up a pool of quantum expertise since its establishment in 2007. QEP is investing SGD121.6 million to advance Singapore’s quantum ecosystem, supporting research that applies quantum technologies to solve user-defined problems and activities that engage the industry. Quantum communication and security, as well as quantum sensing, are two pillars of the program.

"The QEP looks for strong technology partners from industry to help meet its goal of deploying Singapore's quantum know-how to benefit our economy and society. We are delighted that Thales has joined us in studying how quantum techniques can improve communications and sensing," said Associate Professor Alexander Ling, QEP’s director, and a principal investigator at CQT.

Image credit: iStockphoto/sakkmesterke