back to article Warning: China planning to swipe a bunch of data soon so quantum computers can decrypt it later

Tech consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton has warned that China will soon plan the theft of high value data, so it can decrypt it once quantum computers break classical encryption. The firm offers that scenario in a recent report, Chinese Threats In The Quantum Era, that asserts the emerging superpower aspires to surpass US-derived …

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  1. breakfast
    Black Helicopters

    Given most of the hardware the rest of the world uses is made in China, "oh that? yeah we deciphered it with quantums" might make for a good cover if anyone found them using data that should have been securely encrypted without giving away any spy-in-the-hardware type systems they have slipped into people's chips, motherboards, memory, graphics cards etc &co. A side benefit being that it would make it look like they had way more quantums than anyone else which would probably America to work much harder on that, knowing that if the US makes any big breakthroughs that are practical to turn into products they'd probably have them manufactured in China.

  2. cantankerous swineherd

    so we can safely assume the Americans have this program well in hand.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Take nothing for granted is prudent advice and a timely reminder to be prepared for shocks/surprises

      so we can safely assume the Americans have this program well in hand. ..... cantankerous swineherd

      A question to ponder and wonder at, for it may be considered too awesome to answer correctly and truthfully, is does China [and therefore the East] lead in that other emerged quantum domain/those other developing fields with applications exercising and advanced beta testing Deep See Ware fare ..... with IT forks into AIMindfulness .... or does the West assume and presume to be a primary leader worth following via mass multi media tales in that field too ‽ .

      1. John Miles

        Re: quantum computers

        I wonder if quantum computers can decipher "amanfromMars 1" posts? ;)

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: quantum computers

          Shhh! amanfromMars's posts are a distribution mechanism for a one-time pad. That's why they are indecipherable.

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: quantum computers competitive edge at a spooky entangling distance

            Shhh! amanfromMars's posts are a distribution mechanism for a one-time pad. That's why they are indecipherable. ..... Ken Hagan

            Hmmm? Now if that were in any way true, Ken, and I certainly wouldn’t argue with you and dispute the matter, it would be a novel development with extremely valuable, as in priceless, invisible export/import earner potential and a quite perfect fit for the likes of a publicly-admitted-openly-struggling-with-failure-behind-the-scenes-of-a-leading-curve intelligence agency and/or MI6

            cc .... C c/o SIS HQ Vauxhall Cross/PO Box 1300 London SE1 1BD

            [If you want to try out the full fat relatively anonymous spooky contact route this is the official page you will need to read for all the intel on the hoops to jump through to keep yourself maybe secure ...... in these strange postmodern times and spaces where there are no secret places to hide anything from prying eyes and inquisitive minds.]

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Mostly the dangers that Booz Allen are reporting on are a list of all of China's naughtyness over the last few months that have been reworked to sound as though they can relate to 'quantum'.

    Quantum computers, fusion, flying cars and robo-butlers will all be possible around the same time (pick a repeating number i.e. decade, twentyfive years, blah blah.

    I imagine that anyone who has come by some unencryptable data has stuck it in a drawer marked quantum.

  4. batfink Silver badge

    Meh

    TLAs all round the world have been hoovering up raw data for decades in the hope that sooner or later they'll be able to decrypt it (and hope it's still useful by then).

    Adding "Quantum!" to this doesn't make it news.

  5. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Military plans an AI offensive

    ROTFL! AI-driven military, now that's reassuring! We just took hill #234, computer suggests to attack hill #234 (it is 'trending'!).

    Or maybe could we interest you in hill #234?

    "Other generals attacked..."

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Military plans an AI offensive

      People that bought hill #234 also bought: ammunition, bodybags...

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Damn!

    What will we do when they decode our plans for landing in Normandy on D-Day!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Damn!

      That depends on which plans they decode. (Almost relevant ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mincemeat)

      And so we find ourselves back at the top of this comments page.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Won't someone think of the planet?

    This does not bode well - China using all those terawatts of coal-powered electricity to run their crypto-cracking servers. Why wasn't this mentioned at COP26? Surely our governments can use this as yet another justification for attempting to ban encryption?

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Won't someone think of the planet?

      Governments can't mention China if they want to keep supply chains going.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    T'Pau

    Is this an advertorial for Edward Snowden's former employers? Colour me bored by yet another 'They might do exactly what we are/want doing!"

    China in my haaaaaaaaaaaaaand!

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Random

    The properly encrypted data is indistinguishable from completely random data. Just create a honey pot for Winnie the Pooh, like a file browser with files like gravity-engine-confidential-rc.zip.enc or F-35-bill-of-materials.zip.enc or big-pharma-lobbyist-payroll-2021.zip.enc and serve data straight from /dev/random

  10. hammarbtyp

    I can see it now...Christmas 2031. The Chinese leadership crowd around the screen as the multi-billion dollar Quantum decrypter is turned on for the 1st time.

    Technician ashen face turns to the glorious leader. "I don't understand it", they say, "we have tried a number of runs on our captured data but it only returns cat pictures...."

    <Insert Schrodinger joke here....>

  11. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I heard a while back this is quite common

    as in governments storing stuff in the hope of decrypting it later.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Lets write a report that..."

    CIOs buy to justify fancy new encryption kit

    Quantum encryption snake oil vendors buy to spruik their stuff

    NSA convenes a secret committee to get vital funding for this new critical threat

    Chinese spies use to get funding for a boondoggle to collect vast amounts of data that they can't even read

    Google puts a new fibre across to china to carry all the extra unreadable data

    China's cloud providers go to the govt offering to store the unreadable data "securely", y'know, in case it were to get corrupted

    Chinese academics make the govt fund their cool really cold stuff

  13. Teejay

    Meanwhile...

    Steal, copy, deny, and if anybody points out what has been happening for the last twenty years, call it sinophobia - Genius!

  14. patrickdevine

    That's (one of the many reasons) why Format Preserving Tokenisation is preferred to Encryption

  15. Beleagured Greybeard
    Facepalm

    Asimov's 3 Laws?

    > Integrated warfare based on Internet of Things systems that uses intelligent weaponry and equipment and their corresponding methods in the land, sea, air, space, electromagnetic, cyber, and cognitive domains

    So we're not going with the traditional 3 laws of robotics then?

    Link to pertinant XKCD comic ==> https://xkcd.com/1613/

  16. Bitsminer Bronze badge

    "intelligentized warfare"

    Chinese AI systems, presumably trained on artificial turf using artificial bullets, won't be immune to the usual issues with the current crop of "learned machines": a 20% chance of raining on the wrong fellow's parade.

    For example, automated translation systems can get things wrong, and nobody dies. In a battle, the misinformed or misconfigured AI can kill everybody. Not the kind of thing you can hand-wave away.

    It's going to be a hot century.

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