Google hopes to thwart quantum computers from cracking today's Internet encryption

Google is testing out new cryptography that could future-proof Internet communications

The encryption methods used to secure today’s Internet communications won’t be impenetrable forever. More powerful “quantum computers” on the horizon could very well crack them.

That’s why Google is testing out new cryptography that computers in the future might not be able to break.

The processing power offered by "hypothetical, future" quantum computers could be enough to “decrypt any internet communication that was recorded today,” wrote Matt Braithwaite, a Google software engineer in a company blog post on Thursday.

This could affect the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol used when visiting websites. Old information, originally meant to be secured for decades, could suddenly become exposed, he added.

The quantum computers available today, however, are still small and experimental, but the tech industry has been moving closer to making them a mainstream reality.

They represent a leap over current computers, which rely on data represented as 0s and 1s. Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits that can simultaneously be both 0 and 1, which can help them run far more efficiently.

Regardless of when quantum computers arrive, Google still wants to prepare for the security risks posed by them.

To future-proof today’s Internet communications, the search giant will deploy what it’s calling “post-quantum cryptography” and will test it using its browser Chrome Canary.

The experiment will only cover a small fraction of the connections between the browser and Google’s servers, and be used on top of its current encryption algorithm.

In its test, Google is using a cryptography algorithm called “New Hope." However, the test will only last two years, and Google hopes it can replace the algorithm with something better.

“The post-quantum algorithm might turn out to be breakable even with today's computer,” Braithwaite wrote. “Alternatively, if the post-quantum algorithm turns out to be secure then it'll protect the connection even against a future, quantum computer."

Users of Chrome Canary can tell if the post-quantum algorithm is in use by checking the browser's security panel and looking for "CECPQ1" in the key exchange.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

More about GoogleQuantumTransport

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Michael Kan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place