Proposed Presidential FY2021 Budget Validates Importance of Investing in Quantum Technology

In the current environment of social distancing, we rely more than ever on the technology that enables us to communicate with each other while physically separated. Many businesses that are still operating must do so remotely through tele-working, which means a dramatic increase in the transmission of sensitive data outside an organization’s main servers and network. The ongoing work conditions place a greater emphasis on the need for proper security protocols and resources.

At the same time, the cybersecurity threat landscape continues to evolve with the arrival of quantum computers – specifically threatening our current forms of encryption. Investment in the capability to protect our communications networks and data in the quantum era is critical. Fortunately, the President’s proposed budget reflects recognition of that criticality by our leadership at the highest levels. 

The proposed FY2021 Budget represents an unprecedented commitment for funding artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science, doubling Research and Development (R&D) spending in those two areas by 2022.

Equally important, the budget also earmarks money for educating and training the skilled U.S. workforce needed to support these new Industries of the Future.

The White House Fact Sheet regarding the budget outlined these important investments in quantum technology:

  • National Science Foundation will invest $230 million in Quantum Information Science (QIS) research, an increase of $120 million over FY 2020
  • Department of Energy Office of Science will increase spending on QIS research to $237 million, $70 million more than FY 2020
  • Department of Energy Office of Science will receive $25 million towards early stage research to build a quantum internet connecting 17 labs 

Although the final budget may ultimately have different dollar figures attached to these investments, it nevertheless clearly shows how the administration prioritizes quantum technology and the other Industries of the Future. They recognize that ensuring the U.S. presses forward in science and technology – and particularly QIS – has significant national security implications.

The advent of quantum computers brings with it a wealth of capability that will reach into all corners of our society, such as medical research. The contributions of quantum computers in this area, in particular, take on added significance in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

But quantum computers also put our most sensitive data, our nation’s most sensitive data, and our trade secrets, at risk due to their ability to crack today’s strongest encryption algorithms. Getting and staying ahead in the quantum race is not something we can wait for – we have to take action to do it now; and so it is encouraging to see the proposed FY21 Budget place a priority in funding those efforts.

Despite the recognition that quantum computers will pose a threat to the security of our future communications and data (three-quarters of security professionals surveyed at the 2020 RSA Conference said that quantum computers are already a threat to their organization or will be within 5 years), most organizations are not taking the proper steps to protect their data. One of the reasons stems from the debate over when quantum computers will be commercially available, which could be as short as 3-5 years; but nefarious actors are stealing data now and holding onto it until they have a quantum computer to decrypt it. That means data is already at risk.

As a leading provider of secure communications for a quantum-safe world, Quantum Xchange has a vested interest in the advancement and high profile focus on quantum encryption. The increased funding outlined in the proposed FY21 budget is critical to making progress and improving our capability in this realm, especially now as we rely even more on communicating from a distance. Many believe that remote work will continue at a larger scale than we have seen before, so we anticipate that discussions surrounding proper security will be escalated as well. So, the next step for many will be to determine the best product for security needs. Our Phio Playbook is a valuable resource for determining strong solutions for your organization, and we can help inform those planning discussions that start today to secure for tomorrow.  

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