‘Cybersecurity is all about tomorrow’s technology today’

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Sunil Gupta, founder and CEO at Bengaluru-based QNu Labs spoke with Shalini S. Dagar in a three-part interview on the emerging area of quantum security. As he explained in the first segment of the interview here the coronavirus pandemic and its concomitant geopolitics has spurred the demand for QNu’s solutions and products which promise “to provide unconditional data security.” Here, in the second segment he discusses the risk landscape. Edited excerpts:  

Q: Your observations on two recent episodes which seemed like security breaches – the recent NSE outage in India and the other was Google late last year?

A: There was no confirmation but these (kind of) episodes have been happening (earlier too). And there can be many reasons. We can only draw some parallels in such cases. It is very difficult to really know. A few years back, the US East Coast power grid was brought down by a cyber attack. It was a distributed denial-of-service (D-DoS) attack where several (Internet of Things) IoT devices were used as bots. Today, it is possible to take over millions of IoT devices through  malware.

In the future it will be an even bigger threat because there will be billions of IoT devices which by their nature are weak in their encryption and security.

Though we all know it, probably the full realisation is not there. With the passage of time, the risk is only increasing exponentially because we are making the system more open, more connected, more devices, more sensors and as you do that you make yourself more vulnerable. As your surface area of attack increases, the chances of being attacked are more.

Hackers now have better equipment, AI-based tools, quantum computing based attacks. So there is a continuous deterioration of the security posture I would say.

Typically, for enterprises your security posture should improve with risks being mitigated but if you are taking too much time to implement and improve your security posture then it may remain static or actually weakens.

It is a game of time and thinking ahead. So if you have to beat the cybersecurity game with hackers, then you have to get tomorrow’s technology today.

Q: When talking of geopolitics… state as well as non-state actors are involved. How do you see these threats moving forward?

A: Quantum cryptography is really the need of the hour. So it is very important for India to understand that we need an indigenous and homegrown technology to create a sort of a quantum shield for our critical infrastructure, key companies and enterprises — banks, pharma companies, power plants and the like — because there are unprecedented attacks by state as well as non-state actors.

It is very important for us (in India) to realise that the geopolitical situation that we are in is not going to settle very quickly.

One of our neighbours is way ahead of everyone else, including the United States in terms of quantum computing and quantum cryptography capabilities. That neighbour has already created a quantum shield and backbone for more than 8,000 kilometres using quantum technology. So their data and fibre backbone is protected, whereas they have the capability to break into our data.

Unconfirmed sources tell us that such state-sponsored actors have in the last 12 months made several attempts to break into our pharma companies IP and tried ‘n’ number of other attacks. With the passage of time, these actors will only get more aggressive because they will have more capabilities.

Read also: Part 1 of Sunil Gupta’s interview: Market for quantum tech growing faster than anticipated

Read also: Part 3 of the interview with Sunil Gupta of QNu Labs: Slow start to India’s quantum plans poised to change

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