Telecom industry association GSMA launched a collaboration with IBM and Vodafone to integrate post-quantum encryption into the telecom industry.

The trio will become part of the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce. The partners aim to develop policies, guidelines and workflows for post-quantum encryption in telecom networks and services.

Post-quantum cryptography

The importance of post-quantum cryptography grows as quantum computers become more accessible. In the long run, quantum computers will allow cybercriminals to crack traditional encryption algorithms. Government agencies and security authorities are increasingly pushing for the development of encryption algorithms that can stand up to quantum computers, also known as post-quantum cryptography.

One of the agencies is the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In July 2022, the organization announced four quantum-proof algorithms to be be standardized in the security industry. IBM contributed to the development of three of the four algorithms. Now, the organization will collaborate with GSMA and Vodafone to implement the algorithms in the telecom industry.

GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce

The GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce focuses on three areas. First, the partners want to integrate post-quantum encryption into the products and services used by telecom operators. Second, the partners want to create an overview of the requirements for implementing post-quantum cryptography in the telecom industry. Third, the partners hope to advise governments on laws and regulations concerning post-quantum security.

The World Economic Forum recently estimated that 20 billion devices will need to be replaced or upgraded between now and 2042 to support post-quantum cryptography. Governments worldwide are expected to introduce new laws to enforce post-quantum cryptography among businesses, just like data encryption can be mandated today.

“Future quantum computing could inherently undermine the cryptographic principles relied on today”, responded Luke Ibbetson, head of R&D at Vodafone. “That is why Vodafone is committed to working with the GSMA and other members of the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce to protect and secure customer data with the timely adoption of quantum-resilient solutions, policies and standards.”

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