Harvest and decrypt

Nov 30, 2021

In our last blog about the ‘harvest and decrypt’ scenario, we said we would return to our series where we would discuss some ideas for new cryptographic solutions. Before doing so though, we wanted to make a comment on the graphic used for this blog where a ‘hoodie’ was worn by an apparent hacker.

If You are Hearing About It, It’s Already Happened

We should say that the hoodie stereotype is probably the wrong one to have used and in explaining why, we can reinforce not just the Enigma and Ultra analogues, but also highlight an important point relating to mankind’s adoption of step function technologies and bring additional focus to the “Now?” question.

Our point is this – long before commercial or public announcements about our mastery of a new technology, there has historically been long progress behind the scenes emanating from non-commercial, in fact usually highly secretive, settings. Commercial or public announcements are rarely the ‘canary in the coal mine’ telling us when to be on notice – for such clues it’s often more useful to look in different areas that may well indirectly reflect progress that is surprising, that may be based in part on these new technologies.

The History of Now

Let us give just a few historical examples. Computing technology was used for advanced cryptanalytic efforts in early 1940, long before IBM’s commercial launched its mainframes or its PC in 1982. The use of nuclear technology for commercial power generation in the early 1960s was itself preceded by its first use for non-commercial reasons in August of 1945. Stealth technology is another area where public displays of new technological advances came years after its actual practical use for non-commercial purposes.   

Sometimes you have to decrypt what is embedded in these surprising (stunning?) technological advances and ask on what such breakthroughs these advances may be based. In other words, the advances in such technologies may have been quietly applied first to use cases important to the non-commercial settings.

The “Quantum Ready” Insurance

It’s quite possible with all the recent and accelerating quantum breakthroughs that we are now arriving at the stage of what is known as ‘event risk’, and that as a prudent defensive expenditure for the future, given the amount of work, expertise, and time involved to become quantum safe, it is time to begin preparations and planning for strengthening the digital trust we all rely on.  Think of it as “quantum ready” insurance.

We will have to do all this anyways – so why not before it’s an even bigger and more expensive challenge. 

We are pretty sure we got the dress code in the graphic wrong for this scenario! Chances are a military uniform would have been more appropriate.

Ok enough on this topic.

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