Hsbc strengthens cybersecurity against quantum threats

Hsbc strengthens cybersecurity against quantum threats

Cybersecurity Threats

The development of quantum computing raises concerns about the security of existing encryption methods. Experts warn that the arrival of “Q-Day,” when quantum computers can break current cryptographic algorithms, could leave all online data vulnerable. This threat is particularly concerning for the financial sector, which holds sensitive banking information and processes billions of transactions each year.

Philip Intallura, Global Head of Quantum Technologies at HSBC, discussed the bank’s initiatives to future-proof its systems against quantum threats. HSBC serves 41 million customers and processes around 4.5 billion transactions annually, making it a prime target for cybercriminals. The bank has been proactively addressing these threats through its quantum program.

Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) and quantum communications are two approaches to safeguard against quantum computing threats.

Proactive measures against quantum threats

PQC uses new mathematical algorithms that are resistant to quantum attacks, while quantum communications, specifically quantum key distribution (QKD), leverage quantum mechanics principles to exchange cryptographic keys securely.

HSBC has deployed QKD links between its headquarters in Canary Wharf and a data center in Berkshire. These links allow the bank to exchange quantum keys and apply them to encrypt data such as audio, video, and files. In 2023, HSBC demonstrated secure information exchange in a simulated 30m euro to dollar foreign exchange trade on this network, showcasing the potential application of this technology to critical applications.

Collaborative efforts involving academia, government, technology players, and financial services institutions are crucial in mitigating quantum threats. Organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are working to share best practices and develop common strategies to counteract this unified threat. Financial services organizations can prepare for quantum threats by ensuring their boards discuss quantum computing and its emerging threats.

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Establishing a proactive strategy today will be critical in securing systems against quantum threats in the future.


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