As most people know, one of the aspects of quantum computing that has raised concern is the effect it will have on computer security in the coming years. On one hand, when large quantum computers are available, they will be able to run Shor’s algorithm and this will jeopardize any computer communication that use public key encryption methods such as the RSA algorithm. On the other hand, quantum technology enables the use of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) which will guarantee via the laws of quantum physics that encryption key information cannot be intercepted and will be passed securely.
In today’s internet, there is an optional protocol called the Transport Layer Security (TLS) that uses encryption to transmit data back and forth from a website to the end user. You can tell if a website is using this by seeing the prefix HTTPS on the address bar of your browser. This will prevent anyone along the way from intercepting the information that is being transmitted between the website and the end user. Google now deems the use of this protocol so important that they prioritize websites that use this protocol in their search engine rankings. As of 2018, the majority of websites now take advantage of this protocol.
The original internet did not have the TLS protocol and some websites are still programmed this way. You can tell if you are on one of these websites is you see the prefix HTTP on the address bar or see a message on some browsers that says NOT SECURE. All communication with these websites is passed along in plaintext and could be intercepted.
At the Quantum Computing Report we still see a few websites of QC companies that do not use TLS and show the HTTP prefix. For those still in this category our recommendation is to upgrade as soon as possible. Although not using TLS degrades both the security of the website as well as its search engine ranking, our primary reason for making this recommendation is the marketing message that it projects. A company’s website is their most important marketing vehicle and making a good first impression is critically important. Given the security implications of quantum computing mentioned at the top of this article, it is important for QC companies to indicate they understand the issues and using TLS on their website will help demonstrate that.