Korean operator SK Telecom and digital security firm Thales have tested quantum-resistant cryptography based on a 5G standalone network.

The trial is focused on encrypting and decrypting identity data on a 5G network to protect user privacy from future quantum threats. It was performed using Thales 5G Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) SIM cards and a trial 5G standalone network environment from SKT.

The test involved cryptographic algorithms designed to resist attacks from quantum computers, as well as ‘classical’ computers.

While quantum attacks aren’t a reality yet, this sort of tech can protect subscribers against potential “record now, decrypt later” attacks, says the release.

“This collaboration between SKT and Thales highlights our commitment to staying ahead of the curve in terms of cybersecurity and ensuring the safety of our customers’ data,” said Yu Takki, Vice President and Head of Infra Technology Office of SKT. “PQC provides enhanced security through the use of cryptographic algorithms that are thought to be secure against quantum computer attacks. Going forward, we will combine PQC SIM with our additional quantum expertise to achieve end-to-end quantum-safe communications.”

Eva Rudin, SVP Mobile Connectivity and Solutions at Thales added: “As quantum computers have the potential to break certain existing cryptographic algorithms, there is an emerging need to transition to cryptographic algorithms that are believed to be secure against quantum attacks. For 5G networks, Thales started to invest on cryptographic algorithms that are quantum-resistant to enhance continued security and privacy features of communications for users.” 

As quantum computing gets more reliable and presumably starts getting used more widely in the future, this sort of security is going to become increasingly important.  Just yesterday, Nokia announced it had completed a proof of concept trial alongside Greek research consortium HellasQCI, demonstrating what it calls quantum-safe connectivity infrastructure.

You can expect more of this sort of thing in the coming months and years as the prospect of an encryption collapse due to quantum powered attacks rises up everyone’s agenda.

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