TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – From its research hub in Taipei, Taiwan, BTQ is preparing for the next era of cyber security by developing digital cryptography tools at the dawn of the quantum computing era.
To most readers, that probably sounds very abstract, especially since a quantum computer hasn’t been invented yet. However, governments and businesses expect such a device to appear in the near future.
Excited about the possibilities and concerned about potential dangers of quantum computers, companies such as BTQ and others are using them to provide security solutions for digital assets against quantum computer attacks.
Recently, BTQ Chief Scientific Officer Cheng Chen-Mou (鄭振牟) joined the Startup Island Taiwan podcast with host Jeremy Olivier, where he discussed some of the issues surrounding post-quantum cryptography (PQC) and explained the work BTQ is doing.
Post-quantum cryptography is an interesting and challenging field that combines the study of physics, mathematics, computer science and electrical engineering, said Cheng, who has been involved in the field for more than 15 years both as a developer and in academia.
To explain the relationship between quantum computing and post-quantum cryptography, Cheng said that quantum computing is often conceptualized as a companion to BTQ. On the other hand, post-quantum cryptography is envisioned as the tools and skills needed to protect against the risks associated with such a conflict.
Currently, one of BTQ’s main focuses is on blockchain cryptography, specifically the current process of transferring sensitive information on publicly accessible networks to more secure blockchain networks. The move was requested by the US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Cheng also noted that NIST has played a major role in organizing this transition. Back in July, after six years of research and analysis, NIST announced standardized algorithms for quantum computing operations. The announcement was a boon for companies like BTQ, as they can now begin developing applications and related technologies using a globally accepted set of standards.
Securing web transactions that still take place on unencrypted networks is now an urgent priority for companies and governments around the world. The older networks are not secure against current cyber threats, Cheng said, and BTQ is trying to help this transition by researching cryptographic tools to secure these new blockchain-based networks.
Using the metaphor of home renovation, Cheng said the entire internet needs to “replace all the pipes” right now to ensure online security is intact, and there are no weak links. Given the sheer scale of such an operation, there are many opportunities as well as tough challenges on the horizon for those involved in PQC. BTQ is a small player, but wants to be part of that effort, Cheng said.
Cheng emphasized that even devices with very little computing power, such as refrigerators or other household appliances, must also be secured. One aspect of this process is the development of new hardware for such devices.
In September, BTQ announced that it was collaborating with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to do just that. The two will work together to develop a new type of computer chip to improve security for these new blockchain-based networks and also, hopefully, reduce energy use in the process.
The entire interview can be streamed in the player above or on the Startup Island Taiwan podcast page. Readers can learn more about BTQ by visiting their website. For those interested, BTQ is hosting a PQC workshop in Taipei in early December as part of Taipei Blockchain Week.