Quantum computing has long been seen as the next big thing in technology, with the potential to transform various industries. Many tech giants have invested significantly in quantum technologies and have made remarkable progress in the development of quantum computers with increasing qubit counts and improved stability. These advancements have made it possible to explore new possibilities in various fields, such as cryptography, machine learning and data analysis.
According to the HCLTech Trends 2024 report, quantum technology finds itself in the early stage of development, with quantum computing, post-quantum cryptography and quantum machine learning as the top three emerging trends in this space. Based on the principles of quantum mechanics, quantum technology deals with the behavior of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.
By utilizing unique qubits properties, quantum computers can carry out complex calculations at exponential speed. Quantum computing, with its inherent potential for limitless computing power, has tremendous revenue-generating potential. Early adopters can reap substantial financial benefits as the technology matures.
Applications and impacts of quantum computing
Though quantum computing is still in its early stage, the potential applications and impacts of this technology are vast. In drug discovery, quantum computing is helping researchers optimize drug candidates by simulating and analyzing their molecular structures that can expedite the discovery of new drugs to combat diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's.
Quantum sensors are likely to start a revolution with their unprecedented levels of precision in measuring acceleration, magnetic fields and temperature, among others. This can have a significant impact in areas of navigation, environmental monitoring and healthcare diagnostics.
Quantum tech can also help develop efficient solar panels, advanced battery materials and smart grid management systems in the energy and utilities industry. Researchers are uncovering innovative solutions to address the global energy crisis and mitigate the effects of climate change by harnessing quantum properties.
In the financial sector, quantum algorithms are being considered to optimize investment strategies, risk management and fraud detection, enabling more efficient and secure financial systems. With the advent of quantum-resistant cryptography, financial institutions are ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of their customers' data.
HCLTech is exploring quantum computing opportunities with enterprise organizations worldwide by harnessing the latest Microsoft Azure Quantum toolsets and support. Through its innovative HCLTech Quantum Labs (Q-Labs) initiative, the company is facilitating the exploration and scaling of customer-ready deployments of quantum applications.
US President Joe Biden’s $500 million investment toward the advancement of quantum networks through the CHIPS and Science Act highlights the strategic importance of quantum communications globally. As conventional communication channels face cyberthreats, quantum communications has emerged as a promising avenue for upholding the confidentiality and integrity of data transmission.
In recent years, government investment in quantum communications has seen a notable rise. China has made substantial commitments to quantum technologies, from establishing a $10 billion national quantum laboratory to deploying the first quantum satellite. Similarly, Europe's Quantum Flagship initiative, launched with a budget exceeding $1 billion over a decade, designates a quarter of its resources to quantum communications.
Recently, HCLTech Q-Labs conducted a series of sessions, in collaboration with its global innovation partners. The discussion touched upon paving way for a quantum secure world and the growing market of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), which is projected to reach $5 billion by 2028.
According to the Q LAB blog, QKD operates by transmitting photons — "quantum light's particles" — across an optical link. It promises unconditional security based on the laws of physics only. QKD has the advantage of being future proof: unlike classical key distribution, it is not possible for an eavesdropper to keep a transcript of quantum signals sent in a QKD process, owing to the quantum non-cloning theorem. It could ensure security of communications, enabled by quantum cryptography, even in the face of unlimited (quantum) computing power.
From a cybersecurity perspective, if a hacker tries to observe qubits in transit, their super-fragile quantum state “collapses” to either 1 or 0. This means a hacker can’t tamper with the qubits without leaving behind a telltale sign of the activity.
Quantum cryptography leverages the principles of quantum mechanics to achieve secure communications between two parties. It uses quantum key distribution (QKD) protocols to establish a secure key between the sender and the receiver. In HCLTech’s Tech Trends 2024, quantum cryptography has emerged as a disruptor, poised to redefine the landscape of security and privacy, with 48% of respondents foreseeing significant benefits for the cybersecurity sector through the early adoption of quantum technology.
With a high potential for disruption, quantum cryptography positions itself to transform the way data is secured and protected. "Quantum cryptography is one of complementary approaches to quantum-safe protocols for maintaining crypto agility. In any given scenario, one needs to leverage ecosystem players to define the applicability of a crypto encryption basis different complexity levels,” says Abhinav Khare, General Manager – Ecosystem Innovation and Tech Incubation at HCLTech.
One of the remarkable properties of quantum cryptography is its ability to detect any interception or tampering during data transmission. By adopting quantum cryptography, organizations can enhance the security of their networks and protect sensitive information from potential threats.
Challenges and ethical considerations
Despite the immense potential of quantum technologies, there are also challenges and ethical considerations that need to be addressed. One of the major challenges is the inherent fragility of qubits, which requires a controlled environment to maintain the delicate quantum states. The error rate in qubits is relatively high, making error correction techniques crucial for the reliability and scalability of quantum computers.
Ethical considerations also arise when discussing the potential consequences of quantum technologies. The tremendous computational power of quantum computers can pose a threat to the security of sensitive information if it falls into the wrong hands. There is a need to develop quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms and frameworks to ensure the privacy and security of data in the post-quantum era.