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NATO Issues Quantum Technologies Strategy

Alliance says quantum presents a “double threat” offensive and defensive cybersecurity capability

Berenice Baker, Editor, Enter Quantum

January 19, 2024

2 Min Read
NATI flag, white on a blue background
NATO has issued a quantum strategy. Tijmen Stam CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

NATO has published a strategy to prepare member nations for the positive and negative outcomes of the revolutionary shift that advances in quantum technologies might bring. These include quantum computing, sensing, imaging, positioning, navigation and timing, communications, modeling and simulation.

The document says that the advances will have far-reaching implications for economies, security and defense but could “degrade the alliance’s ability to deter and defend.” It will introduce an element of strategic competition, potentially offering NATO members a strategic advantage but risking that competitors and potential adversaries could instead take the lead.

NATO also intends to create a transatlantic forum for quantum technologies in defense and security and aims to engage with the wider quantum ecosystem, which it says is essential for maintaining a strategic advantage and closing the skills gap.

The alliance added that it aims to achieve its goals in a responsible way, covering data privacy, anticipation of international norms development and sustainability.

From a cybersecurity perspective, NATO suggests quantum technologies present a double-edged impact, benefiting both the defensive and the offensive side. Quantum encryption and networking would enable organizations to better protect their data and communications while enabling them to detect and block potential incursions in cyberspace. However, it warns that a sufficiently powerful quantum computer would also have the ability to break current cryptographic protocols.

Related:Quantum Summit and AI Summit London: Five Key Takeaways

NATO identified the following desired outcomes of its quantum strategy to support its ambition to become quantum ready:

  • Allies and NATO have identified the most promising military and dual-use quantum applications, experiments and integration of quantum technologies that meet defense planning and capability development requirements.

  • NATO has developed, adopted and implemented frameworks, policies and standards for both software and hardware to enhance interoperability.

  • Allies have cooperated in developing quantum technologies to maintain NATO’s technological edge and allies’ abilities in the field.

  • NATO has identified, understood and capitalized on evolving quantum technologies advancements, including with enabling technologies and in convergence with other emerging and disruptive technologies.

  • NATO has a transatlantic quantum community to strategically engage with government, industry and academia from across our innovation ecosystems.

  • NATO has transitioned its cryptographic systems to quantum-safe cryptography.

  • Relevant quantum strategies, policies and action plans are dynamically updated and executed.

  • Allies have become aware of, and act to prevent, voluntarily, adversarial investments and interference into our quantum ecosystems, which can include, on a national basis, the examination of relevant supply chains.

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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