Vodafone is going quantum to supercharge your next business phone

Abstract image of an atom and data.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Vodafone has joined forces with SandboxAQ to make sure future business smartphones and connections are safe from the threats that hackers with quantum computers may pose. 

In a press release, Vodafone explained that quantum computers have the theoretical capability to break through today’s encryptions and thus allow threat actors to read sensitive data. That may include identity information, payment information, and more. 

In fact, Vodafone argues that hackers are most likely already stealing and storing encrypted data today, in anticipation of the “quantum revolution” which will enable them to quickly decrypt and read the stolen data. Government-held information seems to be among the data being stolen by hackers today, it was said.

Quantum safe VPN

To make sure businesses beat the hackers and the quantum revolution to the curb, Vodafone and SandboxAQ (which is a spin-off from Alphabet, the parent company of Google) conducted a proof-of-concept test for a quantum safe Virtual Private Network (VPN). 

VPN networks are the staple of today’s corporate security, allowing millions of workers worldwide to securely access company systems via their endpoints. The two firms ran the test using standard smartphones, connected to the VPN specifically adapted using cryptography algorithms from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 

NIST, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been working for some time now on the development of new cryptography algorithms better suited for quantum computers. 

The two companies tested the impact of post-quantum cryptography on everyday activity, such as web browsing, social media and chat application use, video and audio streaming, and mobile gaming using PQC-enabled mobile handsets, explained Vodafone’s Head of Research and Development Luke Ibbetson.

The best-fit PQC algorithms selected for standardization by (NIST) were found to perform well in the telecommunications setting, the researchers explained. Their impact on the quality of service was minimal. 

As a result, the researchers concluded that the use of hybrid classical/PQC algorithms for the security processes that use a cryptographic key exchange could be the way forward. NIST is also considering a second group of PQC algorithms, for digital signatures. Vodafone and SandboxAQ believe traditional signature algorithm can be used together with hybrid key-exchange.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.