Europol: Police Must Start Planning For Post-Quantum Future

Law enforcers should start building their knowledge and assessing the potential impact of quantum computing technologies, to ensure they can manage new risks and take advantage of new opportunities, Europol has said.

The policing institution this week published a new report written with the help of industry experts, The Second Quantum Revolution: The impact of quantum computing and quantum technologies on law enforcement.

It highlights both opportunities and threats to law enforcement from the coming quantum revolution.

On the one hand, such technology could be used by police to investigate cold cases afresh, crack passwords belonging to suspects and criminals, supercharge digital forensics and even improve the reliability of evidence, the report claimed.

Yet quantum could also be used by criminal groups to crack asymmetric encryption, potentially imperilling data held by law enforcement agencies and other organizations.

The report warned of a “store now, decrypt later” scenario where groups accumulate encrypted information with a view to unscrambling it at a later date when the technology is available. However, given the timescales involved, it remains to be seen whether this information would still be useful to criminal groups.

Read more on quantum computing: EU Urged to Prepare for Quantum Cyber-Attacks

The report highlighted five things police forces should be doing today to prepare for the quantum age:

  • Monitor developments continuously to identify potential new threats
  • Build knowledge and start experimenting to tap these new developments
  • Build a network of expertise with the scientific community for research and development work
  • Assess the impact of quantum on fundamental rights to ensure police use of the technology is proportionate
  • Review transition plans to ensure critical police systems are protected in the post-quantum era

“Quantum computing and quantum technologies hold significant potential to strongly impact law enforcement. From the analysis of large and complex data sets, to improved forensics capabilities and new ways of secure communication, the future promises significant opportunities to strengthen the fight against crime,” argued Europol executive director, Catherine De Bolle.

“Nevertheless, malicious actors could equally try to profit from such advancements and we have to prepare accordingly.”

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