- Vodafone and SandboxAQ conducted a proof-of-concept test for a quantum-safe Virtual Private Network (VPN).
- The test involved the use of standard smartphones that were specifically modified by Vodafone and SandboxAQ using NIST’s cryptography algorithms.
- Vodafone is uniquely positioned to leverage its global collaboration, technology sharing and deep expertise in combating emerging threats, such as quantum hacking.
Vodafone, a leading telecommunications company, has partnered with SandboxAQ, a spin-off from Alphabet, to conduct a proof-of-concept test for a quantum-safe Virtual Private Network (VPN), according to a Vodafone blog post. The aim of the test is to enhance the security of millions of workers who rely on VPNs to securely access company systems via their devices.
The test involved the use of standard smartphones that were specifically modified by Vodafone and SandboxAQ using cryptography algorithms from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). By adapting the smartphones, Vodafone and SandboxAQ were able to evaluate the latest NIST standards in a real-life telecommunications setting, providing valuable insights into quantum risks and their potential impact on network security.
Emma Smith, Vodafone’s Cyber Security Director, wrote about the importance of addressing the quantum threat while harnessing the potential benefits of quantum computing. She stated, “On one hand, quantum computing has the potential to rapidly solve ultra-complex problems, but on the other hand, it could undermine today’s cryptography. This is why we are playing an active role in the transition to a quantum-safe world.”
The collaboration between Vodafone, technology partners and industry body GSMA focuses on exploring quantum-safe defenses to protect customers, governments, and society from future threats. Governments worldwide are already adopting NIST standards to mitigate potential risks associated with quantum computing.
Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s Head of Research and Development, shed light on the “Store Now, Decrypt Later” attack, where adversaries steal encrypted data to be decrypted in the future with a quantum computer. While cryptographically relevant quantum computers may be a few years away, the threat posed by quantum-empowered attackers is already present today.
Ibbetson added, “The experiments involved the assessment of both synthetic traffic and real data sessions made by internal volunteers from several countries in which we operate, together with the project team. We tested the impact of post-quantum cryptography on activities many of us do every day. These included web browsing, social media and chat application use, video and audio streaming, and mobile gaming using PQC-enabled mobile handsets, helping to test network performance and assess the user experience.”
Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, Vodafone has initiated testing of new cryptography in collaboration with industry players to address potential vulnerabilities. As the cyber risk landscape remains volatile, Vodafone’s global team of 900 cybersecurity experts is committed to protecting customers and society at large.
The scale and reach of Vodafone enable it to leverage global collaboration, technology sharing and deep expertise in combating emerging threats. Furthermore, the company is well-positioned to harness the significant benefits of quantum technology, such as improved network optimization, energy savings, cost reduction, and enhanced connectivity for customers worldwide.
The successful implementation of quantum-safe VPN solutions would provide a crucial layer of protection against future quantum-empowered attacks, ensuring the continued security of sensitive data and communications in an evolving digital landscape.