According to Romijn, one of the first applications of quantum computers and networks will be to secure confidential information, e.g. that of the government or the military. “For instance, we are working with a Dutch bank to examine the scope for security,” she says.
Not only does the quantum computer offer new forms of security, but it also poses security risks. The current security provided by encryption, a cipher sequence generated by multiplying large prime numbers, is no longer as secure when a quantum computer comes into play. “It is very difficult for a standard computer to reduce this type of cipher sequence down to those two prime numbers. This is why data is secure. But because a quantum computer performs these kinds of calculations far more quickly, it can easily crack these kinds of codes,” explains Pluis, who works at Cisco.