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Quantum

Quantum Computing: Does Potential Outweigh Risk?

By: Jacob Kozhipatt & Melissa Calise | June 13, 2023
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FCAT is preparing Fidelity for the cybersecurity risks quantum computing may pose, while leveraging the powerful opportunities it presents.

When

Thursday, April 27, 2023

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. ET

Where

Zoom

Meeting ID: 994 3158 6099
Passcode: 253444

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To Put It Simply…

Quantum computers have the potential to solve certain problems much faster than classical ones, including some problems that would take current computers trillions of years to solve.

Currently our computers use classical bits as the basic unit of information. These form a binary system – every bit is either 0 or 1. A quantum computer differs because it uses quantum bits, or qubits, which expands beyond the system of 0s and 1s. To do so, it leverages superposition –– a quantum phenomenon that lets qubits represent both values, 0 and 1, simultaneously. This allows quantum computers to perform complex calculations in parallel, potentially solving problems much faster than classical computers.

Optimization, the process of finding the best solution from a larger number of possible outcomes, is an area that might reap benefits from quantum algorithms. Optimization is critical across various industries improving logistics, supply chain management, resource allocation, marketing and beyond. Current algorithms powered by classical computers use iterative approaches which can be time-consuming and get stuck in local optimum – a situation made even more complex as possible outcomes grow.

Quantum computers can leverage quantum algorithms which use superposition and entanglement – a quantum phenomenon in which quantum systems become interconnected such that no single system can be described independently of the others - to explore multiple possible solutions simultaneously, ultimately leading to a faster and better solution. This advancement could lead to improvements including transportation planning, financial portfolio management and beyond. This is an example of only one of many tasks that can benefit from quantum computing advancements.

Not Without Risks

While quantum computing opens technologists to a new range of computing power –– allowing them to solve problems that were historically impossible to consider, they also bring on a new set of problems.

The primary concern is that quantum computers will be able to break today’s encryption protocols that we rely on for almost all our digital systems. Current RSA encryption methods would take a classical computer longer than the age of the universe to break while an early fault-tolerant quantum computer could do so in just two years.

Vladimir Tsitrtin, FCAT’s quantum security architect, explains that the reason we can trust the internet now is due to the encryption methods that certify the webpages we visit are secure.

For example, Fcatalyst.com has a HTTPS certificate (see Figure 1). As Google writes, “When you go to a site that uses HTTPS (connection security), the website's server uses a certificate to prove the website's identity to browsers, like Chrome.” 1

Moreover, fcatalyst.com has an SSL certificate –– Secure Sockets Layer –– letting users know that the website they are on is an actual Fidelity website (see Figure 2). It does this using cryptography to authenticate that both the server and client are who they claim to be. The SSL layer binds a public key to the SSL server/client.2

Encrypted code, passwords, and algorithms fuel HTTPS and SSL certificates. However, quantum computing creates a situation where the infrastructure that we rely on for banking, viewing medical records, and –– simply put –– trusting the internet is at risk.

So, what can organizations and individuals do to protect themselves from quantum risks? It’s this question that drives FCAT’s dedication to not only prepare for quantum computing advancements but to also be a part of the development of new solutions for post-quantum cybersecurity.

Where to Next

The FCAT quantum team is actively exploring how quantum computing can improve current processes that can one day benefit Fidelity customers. Recently, the team designed a successful proof-of-concept that provides a new way of generating quantum states that encode normal probability distributions. This advancement fills a significant gap in the future implementation of quantum Monte Carlo processes. “Monte Carlo methods are a broad class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling to predict outcomes of complex scenarios with multiple unknowns. They’re commonly used in the financial industry to evaluate risks, price derivatives, and create long-term strategies, as in the case of retirement planning.” 3

Beyond efforts to improve existing processes, FCAT is preparing for the cybersecurity threats that are presented by quantum. FCAT has already implemented quantum key distribution (QKD) between two locations to create and share unique encryption key. Director of Quantum Product Management, Michael Dascal shares, “Unlike classical secure data transmission protocols, which rely on computers being unable to solve difficult mathematical problems, QKD is secured by the laws of physics. These laws allow us to see when someone is trying to eavesdrop in the process and to shut down the system before they pose a security threat.”

The next generation of computing will be here before we know it. FCAT is preparing Fidelity for the cybersecurity risks quantum computing may pose, while leveraging the powerful opportunities it presents.

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1 Check if a site’s connection is secure. Google Chrome Help.
2 Secure Sockets Layers (SSL). (May, 2022). IBM
3 Zhu, E. Quantum State Preparation of Normal Distributions using Matrix Product States. (March, 2023). FCAT.
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