DigiCert Inc., the global provider of scalable PKI solutions for identity and encryption, Gemalto, a global provider in digital security, and ISARA Corp., the provider of quantum-safe security solutions, announced a partnership to develop advanced quantum-safe digital certificates and secure key management for connected devices commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT).

“DigiCert, Gemalto and ISARA are collaborating today to solve tomorrow’s problem of defending connected devices and their networks against the new security threats that the implementation of quantum computers will unleash,” says Deepika Chauhan, Executive VP of Emerging Markets at DigiCert. “The work we’re doing now will ensure that the connected systems that serve as the brains of automobiles, industrial control systems, medical devices, nuclear power plants and other critical infrastructure are safe from those threats in five, 10 and 20 years.”

ISARA recognises DigiCert’s track record in advancing many of the certificate innovations in use

Secure key storage and management

The partnership provides significant advantages for enterprise security teams looking to secure connected devices with lengthy product lifetimes to avoid expensive security retrofitting as quantum computing becomes more prevalent. Organisations can deploy these solutions at any scale, given that DigiCert is already capable of issuing and reliably hosting billions of digital certificates for public trust and private PKI systems. The work of DigiCert with ISARA and Gemalto will enable quantum-resistant certificates with the full capability of hosted, on-premise and hybrid deployment options.

DigiCert already works with many companies and consortiums using PKI to authenticate, encrypt and provide integrity for their connected devices. ISARA recognises DigiCert’s track record in advancing many of the certificate innovations in use, as well as its robust certificate management capabilities, and in operating the industry’s most ubiquitous, trusted roots. Gemalto offers secure key storage and management via its SafeNet Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) that integrate with DigiCert APIs to enable large-scale, automated credential issuing for connected devices via an internet-enabled gateway to distribute identity over the cloud. Certificates obtained through this partnership will be enabled with quantum-safe cryptography ahead of any breakthroughs that could eventually lead to quantum computing threatening connected device security.

Quantum-safe cryptography

Gemalto’s SafeNet Hardware Security Modules act as the root of trust to secure the most sensitive data and applications"

Experts estimate that the dawn of large-scale quantum computing will arrive in the next eight to 10 years, bringing with it the moment when all current public key cryptography can no longer be trusted,” says Scott Totzke, CEO & Co-founder at ISARA. “The work we’re doing today ensures that a fundamental element of the security stack, root certificates, is secure by embedding quantum-safe cryptography. This means that IoT manufacturers and other large organisations will have the solutions and tools they need to prepare for the quantum threat well in advance of that date, keeping confidential information and high-value assets safe.”

Gemalto’s SafeNet Hardware Security Modules act as the root of trust to secure the most sensitive data and applications and protect billions of the digital transactions every day around the world,” said Todd Moore, Senior Vice President for Encryption Products at Gemalto. “This partnership with DigiCert and ISARA will help organisations build secure and future-proof cryptographic operations that can guard against the potential security threats of quantum computing and ensure a more secure world for connected automobiles, devices, machines, smart cities and mission-critical infrastructure.”

Quantum computing security

Many IoT devices rely on RSA and ECC cryptography to protect the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of electronic communications. However, NIST and others in the security community predict that within a decade, large-scale quantum computing will break RSA and ECC public key cryptography. DigiCert, Gemalto and ISARA recognise that crypto-agility becomes paramount for manufacturers of connected devices that will be in use a decade or more from now.

Efforts to address quantum computing security will support connected device manufacturers and users well into the future

To advance the use of reliable quantum-proof certificates, DigiCert, Gemalto and ISARA are collaborating with industry standards bodies that also are pursuing the advancement of post-quantum cryptography such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Efforts to address quantum computing security will support connected device manufacturers and users well into the future. 

Sustainable security management

Consider the automobile industry, which is producing more vehicles with semi- and fully-autonomous driving capabilities. A car should last for 20 years or more, and manufacturers will need to ensure that the IoT devices they install will be secure and continue to function even if there is a breakage in the RSA algorithms that would render digital certificates ineffective.

The automotive industry is very focused on long-term and sustainable security management that covers the lifecycle of our vehicles," said SAE Hardware Security Sub-Committee Chair Bill Mazzara. “Crypto agility is one of the key areas we consider and that includes quantum-resistant technology.”

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