FORT MEADE, Md. — The White House announced today that President Joe Biden has signed a National Security Memorandum (NSM) aimed at maintaining U.S. leadership in quantum information sciences and to mitigate the risks of quantum computing to the Nation’s security.
“Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems” – also known as NSM-10 – directs U.S. Government agencies to migrate vulnerable cryptographic systems to quantum-resistant cryptography as part of multi-year effort. As the National Manager for National Security Systems, the Director of NSA will oversee this process across the 50-plus government departments and agencies using National Security Systems (NSS) – systems that contain classified information or are otherwise critical to military or intelligence operations.
A quantum computer of sufficient size and sophistication – also known as a cryptanalytically relevant quantum computer – will be capable of breaking much of the public-key cryptography used on digital systems across the United States and the world.
“A cryptanalytically relevant quantum computer could jeopardize civilian and military communications as well as undermine supervisory and control systems for critical infrastructure,” said GEN Paul M. Nakasone, Commander, USCYBERCOM, Director, NSA/Chief, CSS. “The No. 1 defense against this quantum computing threat is to implement quantum-resistant cryptography on our most important systems.”
While NSA will spearhead many of the tasks in NSM-10 to ensure NSS are quantum resistant, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will ensure U.S. critical infrastructure and other U.S. Government systems also move toward quantum-resistant cryptography.
“Implementing approved quantum-resistant cryptographic solutions across all of our systems will not happen overnight, but it’s critical that we chart a path to get there considering the potential threat of quantum computing,” said Rob Joyce, NSA Cybersecurity Director and Deputy National Manager for National Security Systems.