Senators intro bill to foster federal move to quantum-resistant technology

A bipartisan pair of senators on Thursday introduced legislation to motivate federal agencies to shift their information systems to quantum-resistant cryptography.

The Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) would direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to take a number of steps to foster the tech migration, including creating guidance for federal entities to assess critical systems a year after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issues its planned post-quantum cryptography standards.

“The development of quantum computers is one of the next frontiers in technology, and with this emerging technology comes new risks as well,” Hassan, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s emerging threats subpanel, said in a statement. “Our national security information must remain secure as this technology quickly develops, and it is essential that the federal government is prepared to address cybersecurity concerns.”

Portman, the committee’s top Republican who is retiring at the end of the year, said the legislation would help tackle digital challenges by requiring the government to “inventory its cryptographic systems, determine which are most at risk from quantum computing, and upgrade those systems accordingly.”

The bill comes weeks after NIST announced the first series of quantum-resistant computer algorithms.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden issued two directives to foster better quantum technology research within the government and help guide agencies to a post-quantum cryptography standard.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday, Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security advisor for cyber and emergency technology, called the potential for quantum computers to be used by an adversary country "a nuclear threat to cybersecurity."

"We're on a rapid transition in government but, frankly, private sector, e-commerce is vulnerable as well, and the nation's economy is as much a priority of course is our national security," she added.

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak

is the senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. Prior to joining Recorded Future News in 2021, he spent more than five years at Politico, where he covered digital and national security developments across Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. He previously was a reporter at The Hill, National Journal Group and Inside Washington Publishers.