Quantum Computing and Israel’s Growing Tech Role

Its time to adjust to a world that is changing from the digital landscape that we have grown accustomed to. Traditional computing is evolving as quantum computing takes center stage.

Traditional computing uses the binary system, a digital language made up of strings of 1s and 0s. Quantum computing is a nonbinary system that uses the qubit which has the ability to exist as both 1 and 0 simultaneously, giving it a near-infinite number of positions and combinations. This computational ability far exceeds any other similar technology on the market today. 

This new technology threatens to outpace our efforts in cyber defense and poses an interesting challenge to VPN companies, web hosts, and other similar industries that rely on traditional methods of standard encryption. 

While leading tech giants all over the globe continue to implement funding that pours hundreds of billions of dollars into their R&D programs for quantum computing, Israel is quick to recognize the importance of the emerging industry. The Startup Nation’s engineers can be found toiling away in the fight to be at the frontier of the world’s next big technological innovations.

Role of Quantum Computing in the Tech World

Quantum computing provides unmatched efficiency at analyzing data. To understand the scope of it, consider the aforementioned classical computing style that encodes information in binary. Picture a string of 1s and 0s about 30 digits long. This string alone has almost one billion different combinations. A classical computer can only analyze each possibility one at a time. However, a quantum computer, thanks to a phenomenon known as superposition, can exist in each one of those billion states simultaneously. To match this unparalleled computing power, our classical computer would need 1 billion processors. 

Consider how much time we spend using applications on the internet. Our data is constantly being stored, usually in large data centers far from us thanks to the ability of cloud computing, which allows information to be stored at data centers and analyzed at a great distance from the user. 

Tech ventures, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS, compete for the newest developments in this technology knowing the positive effects it has on the web user’s experience, such as access to the fastest response times, speedy data transfer, and the most powerful processing capabilities for AI.

Quantum computing has future applications in almost every facet of civilian life imaginable, including pharmaceuticals, energy, space, and more. Quantum computers could offer scientists the ability to work up close with virtual models unlike any they’ve had before, with the ability to analyze anything from complex chemical reactions to quantum systems. AI, the technology claiming to rival electricity in importance and implementation, is the ideal candidate for quantum computing due to it often requiring complex software too challenging for current systems.

Really, the world is quantum computing’s oyster. 

Israel’s Role in Quantum Computing

The next Silicon Valley happens to be on the other side of the world from California. Israel has gained the attention of major players in the tech sector, including giants such as Intel, Amazon, Google, and Nvidia. The Startup Nation got its nickname due to a large number of startups compared to the population, with approximately 1 startup for every 1,400 residents. In a list of the top 50 global cities for the growing tech industry, Tel Aviv, Israel comes in at #15. Israel is wrapping up the year of 2019 with an astonishing 102% jump in the number of tech mergers and acquisitions as compared to the previous year, with no signs of slowing down. 

Habana Labs and Annapurna Labs, both created by entrepreneur Avigdor Willenz, were recently acquired by Intel and Amazon respectively to further their development in the realm of quantum computing and more powerful processors. Google, Nvidia, Marvell, Huawei, Broadcom, and Cisco have also invested billions of capital into Israeli prospects. 

One of Google’s R&D centers located in Tel Aviv is actively heading the research on quantum computing. Just this year Google announced a major breakthrough that made other tech giants pick up the pace. They hinted at a computer chip that, with the power of quantum computing, was able to manage and analyze in one second the amount of data that would take a full day for any supercomputer. 

While Israel is reaping the benefits of its current exposure thanks to big tech firms, an anonymous source is skeptical about the long-term success of Israel’s foray into the tech world without the increased education and government support to keep up with the demand. Similar to other parts of the world, Israel has a shortage of the necessary engineers to drive development. 

Recognizing the need to act fast, in 2017 Professor Uri Sivan of the Technicon Israel Institute of Technology led a committee dedicated to documenting the strengths and weaknesses of the current state of Israel’s investment in quantum technology research and development. What the committee found was a lag in educational efforts and a need for more funding to keep pace with the fast growth of the industry.

In response to this need for funding, in 2018 Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Israel Science Foundation announced a multi-year fund that would dedicate in total $100 million to the research of quantum technologies in hopes that this secures Israel’s global position as a top contributor to new technologies.

How Quantum Computing Requires Adjustments to Cybersecurity Practices

Classic cryptography relies on the symbiotic relationship between a public-key, a private key, and a classical computer’s inability to reverse-engineer the private key to decrypt sensitive data. While the algorithms used thus far have proved too complex for classical computing, they are no match for the quantum computer.  

Organizations are recognizing this potential crisis and jumping to find a solution. The National Institute for the Standards of Technology requested potential postquantum algorithms in 2016. IBM recently announced its own system for handling quantum encryption methods, known as CRYSTALS. 

Current encryption methods are the walls in place that guard our personal information, from bank records and personal documents stored online to any data sent via the web, such as emails.

Just about any user with access to the web on a regular basis can benefit from the security that a VPN offers. A VPN not only protects the identity of your IP address but also secures sensitive data that we are wont to throw into the world wide web. To understand how this works, consider the concept of a tunnel. Your data is shifted through this VPN virtual tunnel that acts as a barrier to unwanted attacks and hackers. Now, this tunnel exists using standard encryption to hide your data. Quantum computing abilities, as they become more accessible and widespread, is going to essentially destroy any effectiveness provided by industries that rely on standard encryption. 

Outside of the usual surfing and data-exposing that we do on the web, lots of us are also taking advantage of opportunities to create our own websites. However, even the best web hosts leave us high and dry with the new age of quantum computing abilities and the influx of spyware and malware. WordPress, one of the more popular web hosts, can easily fall vulnerable to SQL injections, cross-site scripting attacks, and cookie hijacking. The encryptions that can be used to prevent such attacks are, you guessed it, hopeless in the face of quantum technologies.

The current state of modern technology is unsurprisingly complex and requires cybersecurity professionals with strong problem-solving skills and creativity to abate the potential threats we’ll be facing within the next decade. In order to stay ahead of the game and guarantee an effective solution for web-users, top VPN companies and web-hosts need to invest in the research necessary to find alternatives for standard encryption. ExpressVPN has taken it a step further with a “kill switch” if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly and also offers VPN tunneling.  

The Bottom Line

The ability for constant advancements in any field related to science and technology is what makes our world interesting. Decades ago, the abilities afforded by quantum computing would have sounded like an idea only contingent within an Isaac Asimov novel.

The reality of it is that quantum computing has arrived and science waits for no one. Professionals across digital industries need to shift their paradigms in order to account for this young technology that promises to remap the world as we know it.

Israel is full to the brim with potential and now is the time to invest resources and encourage education to bridge the gap and continue to be a major player in the global economy of quantum computing. 

About the Author
Sam Bocetta is a technical writer focused on network security and open source applications. He writes for a number of security publications, including CSO Online, Tripwire, EC Council, and others.
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