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From: Paul H. Christiansen10/17/2017 6:46:58 AM
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How Former BlackBerry Security Specialists Aim to Solve Quantum Threat

The tech industry may have a decade or less to solve its biggest security threat ever: the development of quantum computers able to break the cryptography that underlies everything from online banking to building security cards. One company trying to solve the problem is Isara, a two-year-old startup backed by Research In Motion co-founder Mike Lazaridis, which is applying RIM’s security expertise to the quantum security challenge.

Quantum computers are still in development, but they are expected to be able to process vastly more data than regular computers. While that promises to speed everything from medical design to weather prediction, the ability to break security measures on computers may be more significant.

Opinions vary on when quantum computers will advance to that point. IBM, for instance, thinks quantum computers with the level of performance and reliability to break encryption are "several decades away," a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. Microsoft’s research team estimates the threat—known as Y2Q—could materialize by 2030. Isara CEO Scott Totzke puts the date at 2026, although he says it could be even earlier as the power of quantum computers increases.

Whenever the breakthrough happens, the impact could be widespread. Mr. Totzke notes that as connected devices and autonomous vehicles become more prevalent, the impact of broken encryption broadens. Isara, he says, wants to “build a business around next-generation security encryption technology to address the threats that come with quantum computers. “

Mr. Totzke worked for 13 years at Research In Motion and founded the company’s security team. His CTO and co-founder is Mike Brown, who also previously worked at RIM. In an interview with The Information, Mr. Totzke talked about the threat posed by quantum computers, what Isara is doing and China’s role in quantum. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation.

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