Modern public-key encryption is currently good enough to meet enterprise requirements, according to experts. Most cyber attacks target different parts of the security stack these days \u2013 unwary users in particular. Yet this stalwart building block of present-day computing is about to be eroded by the advent of quantum computing within the next decade, according to experts.\n\u201cAbout 99% of online encryption is vulnerable to quantum computers,\u201d said Mark Jackson, scientific lead for Cambridge Quantum Computing, at the Inside Quantum Technology conference in Boston on Wednesday.\n\nQuantum computers \u2013 those that use the principles of quantum entanglement and superposition to represent information, instead of electrical bits \u2013 are capable of performing certain types of calculation orders of magnitude more quickly than classical, electronic computers. They\u2019re more or less fringe technology in 2019, but their development has accelerated in recent years, and experts at the IQT conference say that a spike in deployment could occur as soon as 2024.\nLawrence Gasman, president of IQT, compared the current state of quantum computing development to that of fiber-optic networking in the 1980s \u2013 a technology with a lot of promise, but one still missing one or two key pieces.\n\u201cOptical amplifiers were what got optical networking going,\u201d he said. \u201cWithout them, they\u2019d really have never turned into what they are today.\u201d\nPure research, the military, and the financial sector are the prime movers behind quantum computing in general and quantum security in particular, according to Gasman. The latter, in particular, has been an enthusiastic early adopter of the technology.\n\u201cIf you look at the amount of money lost to credit card fraud, that\u2019s a huge driver,\u201d he noted.\nA shift to either different types of classical encryption \u2013 some algorithms have proven to be resistant to quantum computing \u2013 or to quantum computing-based security is going to be necessary.\nQuantum computing-based security technology is effective because it relies on two of the best-known properties of quantum physics \u2013 the idea that observing a particle changes its behavior, and that paired or \u201centangled\u201d particles share the same set of properties as the other.\nWhat this means, in essence, is that both parties to a message can share an identical cipher key, thanks to quantum entanglement. In addition, should a third party attempt to eavesdrop on that sharing, it would break the symmetry of the entangled pairs, and it would be instantly apparent that something fishy was going on.\n\u201cIf everything is working perfectly, everything should be in sync. But if something goes wrong, it means you\u2019ll see a discrepancy,\u201d said Jackson.\nIt\u2019s like a soap bubble, according to Brian Lowy, vice president at ID Quantique SA, a Switzerland-based quantum computing vendor \u2013 mess with it and it pops.\n\u201cAt some point, you\u2019re going to have to factor [quantum computing],\u201d he said, noting that, even now, bad actors could download encrypted information now, planning to crack its defenses once quantum computing is equal to the task.\nThe precise day of the shift will vary by industry, according to Paul Lucier, vice president of sales and business development at quantum computing security vendor Isara.\nDevices that have short usage life like smartphones aren\u2019t in immediate danger, because quantum security technology ought to be sufficiently miniaturized by the time quantum codebreaking is powerful enough to undercut modern public-key encryption.\nIt\u2019s verticals like the automotive industry and the infrastructure sector that have to worry, Lucier said. Anything with a long service life and anything that\u2019s expensive to repair and replace is potentially vulnerable.\nThat\u2019s not to say that it\u2019s time to rip-and-replace immediately. Standards bodies are expected to approve quantum-safe encryption algorithms at around the same time experts are predicting that quantum-powered decryption threatens modern security, so a hybrid approach is possible.\nBut the threat is very real, so much so that the National Quantum Initiative Act became law in December of last year. The act calls for official advisory groups to be formed by the executive branch, and directs research funding for further exploration of quantum computing technology.\nSo be prepared, the experts at the IQT conference all agreed.\n\u201cWe think by 2026, if you\u2019re not ready with your systems prepared, you\u2019re taking a giant risk,\u201d said Lucier.