Apple rolls out iMessage Enhancement to Resist Decryption by Quantum Computers


Apple is implementing an upgrade to its iMessage texting platform to enhance its defense against potential encryption-breaking technologies in the future.

The introduction of the PQ3 protocol is further evidence that U.S. tech companies are preparing for a potential quantum computing breakthrough, which could render current methods of safeguarding users’ communications obsolete.

“More than simply replacing an existing algorithm with a new one, we rebuilt the iMessage cryptographic protocol from the ground up,” an Apple blog post published on Wednesday reads. “It will fully replace the existing protocol within all supported conversations this year.”

The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker says its encryption algorithms are state-of-the-art and that it has found no evidence so far of a successful attack on them. Still, government officials and scientists are concerned that the advent of quantum computers, advanced machines that tap in to the properties of subatomic particles, could suddenly and dramatically weaken those protections.

Late Last Year, a Reuters investigation delved into the competition between the United States and China as they strive to brace themselves for the anticipated event termed “Q-Day.” Both countries are actively funding quantum research and investing in new encryption standards, commonly referred to as post-quantum cryptography. Washington and Beijing have exchanged accusations of intercepting substantial volumes of encrypted data, adopting an approach occasionally referred to as “catch now, crack later,” in anticipation of Q-Day.

“Early planning is necessary,” the U.S. cyber watchdog agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said in a 2022 advisory. “Cyber threat actors could be targeting data today that would still require protection in the future.”

According to Apple’s blog, PQ3 employs a fresh and overlapping set of technical safeguards designed to minimize the window of vulnerability.

Michael Biercuk, the founder and chief executive of the quantum tech company Q-CTRL, said the fact that Apple was publicly hardening its defenses was a “vote of confidence” in the idea that advanced computers could one day lay waste to existing protections.

Source: Reuters

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