May 4 (UPI) — Advancing national initiatives in quantum information science (QIS) is the goal of two presidential directives President Joe Biden will sign Wednesday.
The White House said in a statement that the goal of these directives is to “lay the groundwork for continued American leadership” in QIS while mitigating the risk to national security posed by quantum computers.
According to a senior Biden administration official who spoke during a press briefing call Tuesday, the U.S. quantum strategy is focused on getting the science right, enhancing American competitiveness and enabling “our people” to advance QIS.
These presidential directives, the official said, are an effort to move to “post-quantum cryptography” with the intent of leapfrogging ahead of other nations and to protect national security from adversaries using quantum computers.
Quantum computers are fundamentally different from traditional computers, with the ability to analyze information in ways traditional computers can’t.
President Biden will sign an executive order aimed at fostering QIS advances by enhancing the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee, putting it under direct White House authority.
The White House said the president will also sign a National Security Memorandum Wednesday outlining the administration’s plan to deal with the risks that quantum computers pose to U.S. cybersecurity.
One security risk, according to the White House, is that when quantum computers reach a sufficient size and sophistication, they will be able to break much of the cryptography used now to secure Internet digital communications.
To address that risk, the White House said the National Institute of Standards and Technology will publish new quantum resistant cryptographic standards that can counteract these potential future attacks.
According to the White House, the National Security Memorandum will direct federal agencies to pursue a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach “to harness the economic and scientific benefits of QIS for all Americans.”
The effort is also aimed at beefing up security enhancements of new cryptographic systems.
The memorandum also initiates collaboration between the federal government and private sector and sets requirements for federal agencies to update cryptographic systems.
The White House statement said it will also direct federal agencies to develop comprehensive plans to safeguard American sensitive technology, intellectual property and research and development.
During a background press call the Biden administration said the approach to QIS enhancements can be summarized by three “mutually enforcing lines of effort.”
They include modernizing cyber defenses, returning the United States to a more active role of leading internationally in cyber defense and making sure America is “postured to compete.”
According to the Biden administration, current research shows that quantum computers in the near future will be able to break much of the cryptography “that currently secures our digital communications.”
The executive orders are intended to transition America’s most vulnerable IT systems to new standards that will soon be published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology designed to protect against future quantum computer attacks.