20 April 2021
The impact of quantum technologies on secure communications
By Robert Clark, Professor Stephen Bartlett, Professor Michael Bremner, Professor Ping Koy Lam, Professor Timothy Ralph
This ASPI report examines the impact of quantum technologies on secure communications. It provides an overview of the key technologies and the status of the field in Australia and internationally (including escalating recent developments in both the US and China), and captures counterpart US, UK and Canadian reports and recommendations to those nations’ defence departments that have recently been released publicly.
The report is structured into six sections: an introduction that provides a stand-alone overview and sets out both the threat and the opportunity of quantum technologies for communications security, and more detailed sections that span quantum computing, quantum encryption, the quantum internet, and post-quantum cryptography. The last section of the report makes five substantive recommendations in the Australian context that are implementable and in the national interest.
A key message on quantum technologies relates to urgency. Escalating international progress is opening a widening gap in relation to Australia’s status in this field. It is critical that, in addition to its own initiatives, the Defence Department transitions from a largely watching brief on progress across the university sector and start-up companies to a leadership role—to coordinate, resource and harness the full potential of a most capable Australian quantum technologies community to support Defence’s objectives.