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Workshop on Cybersecurity of Quantum Computing

Zoom attendees

The Pittsburgh Quantum Institute organized an invitation-only Workshop on Cybersecurity of Quantum Computing supported by the National Science Foundation and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. (See the announcement.). The workshop explored questions related to hardware and software security, protecting intellectual property, and detecting and preventing certain malicious algorithms from being run on quantum computers. 

Many recognize the promise of quantum computing, and are thinking far into the future, as most of that promise is as yet unrealized.   Quantum computing uses a new model of computation to enable exponential speed up of selected algorithms, potentially leading to breakthroughs in scientific understanding of the world and having application to chemistry, materials science, machine learning and optimization. Only small quantum computers exist today, but research and industry progress has been notable. 

This workshop focuses on how to secure a quantum computer as they are being invented.  The hope is that this workshop will identify new research directions and useful security interfaces.  Tutorials were provided by security experts for quantum computing experts and vice-versa.   

Leaders at many major players in US and EU/CAN quantum computing are participating, as well as leading researchers from across the world. The list is long – roughly 60 participants and including: IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Cold Quanta, Quantinuum, D-Wave, PsiQuantum, Atom and others are participating.  From academia and research labs we’ve also pulled in experts too, including the University of Pittsburgh, CMU, MIT, Yale, Columbia, UC San Diego, Princeton, Penn State, U Wisconsin, ISI USC, U Chicago, Duke, UT Austin, U Florida, Georgia Tech, U Ottowa, Kyoto University, and others.  A snapshot of some of the participants is below. 

There are multiple audiences for the report which is due out this calendar year: 

  • Industry – Computer security relies on certain interfaces being in place, and certain data being collected in a secure fashion.  We hope that industry will collaborate to make interfaces that this workshop proposes available.  We know they won’t be perfect initially, but general agreement and some research will get us there. 

  • NSF –Existing programs already support research in this area, and new funding may be made available. 

  • DARPA/IARPA – DARPA already funds several quantum computing programs.  They may also offer funding to pursue new grand challenge problems identified by participants. 

This workshop is a high-risk experiment to create a new field. It may fail. It is unquestionably exciting! 

Workshop Outcomes 

Tutorial Authors have agreed to make their material available to the community in hopes of spurring additional research.   

Introduction to Computer Security – McDaniel and Wright 

Introduction to Quantum Computing – Johnson 

Quantum Computing Architecture – Mundie