The GSMA announced the formation of the GSMA Post Quantum Telco Network Taskforce, with IBM and Vodafone as initial members. The objective of the taskforce would be to assist define policy, regulation, and operator business processes for the enhanced security of telecommunications in the future of cutting-edge quantum computing.
The GSMA Post Quantum Telco Network Taskforce will help define needs, identify dependencies and create the roadmap to implement quantum-safe networking, mitigating the risks associated with future advanced quantum computers. Without quantum-safe controls, sensitive information such as confidential business and consumer data could be at risk from cyberattackers who harvest present-day data for later decryption.
The World Economic Forum recently estimated that more than 20 billion digital devices would need to be either upgraded or replaced in the next 10-20 years to use the new forms of quantum-safe encrypted communication.
“The GSMA Taskforce’s goal is to bring together leading global communication services providers with experts from IBM, Vodafone and other operators and ecosystem partners to understand and implement quantum-safe technology. By working together to establish consistent policies, we can define quantum-safe approaches that protect critical infrastructure and customer data, complementing our ongoing security efforts to increase resiliency in future networks,” said Alex Sinclair, the GSMA’s Chief Technology Officer.
To handle the challenges raised by emerging quantum technology, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced in July 2022 that it had chosen the first four post-quantum cryptography algorithms to be standardized for security in the quantum computing environment. These algorithms are created to rely on the computational difficulty of problems from the mathematical areas of lattices, isogenies, hash functions and multivariate equations — and protect today’s systems and data from future quantum computers.
“Given the accelerated advancements of quantum computing, data and systems secured with today’s encryption could become insecure in a matter of years. IBM is pleased to work with the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce members to prioritize the telco industry’s move to adopt quantum-safe technology,” said Scott Crowder, Vice President of IBM Quantum Adoption and Business Development.
“In a modern Hybrid Cloud world, communications services and compute technologies are interconnected and underpin all industries, which means the adoption of quantum-safe cryptography in telecom will affect all enterprises and consumers. This taskforce will support the telco industry by creating a roadmap to secure networks, devices and systems across the entire supply chain,” said Steve Canepa, General Manager, Global Industries, IBM.
Luke Ibbetson, Head of R&D, Vodafone, said: “Quantum computing is by far the biggest revolution in computing since the 1950s, and most of it will positively impact our industry and society as we move towards fully automated networks. It has the potential to solve highly complex optimization challenges, which may allow us further to fine-tune our networks for an even better customer experience. “At the same time, future quantum computing could undermine today’s cryptographic principles. That is why Vodafone is committed to working with the GSMA and other GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce members to protect and secure customer data with the timely adoption of quantum-safe solutions and policies and standards.”
The GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce will convene to drive consensus and adoption in this new field, and it will be oriented across three areas:
- Strategy: to combine quantum-safe capabilities into telco network operators’ technology, business processes, and security.
- Standardization: identifying the needs and common alignments for integrating quantum-safe capabilities into existing telco networks.
- Policy – to advise on telco network public policy, regulation, and compliance and to ensure scale across the industry.