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Project Leap: Protecting banking infrastructure in the quantum age

A secure communication channel designed to protect financial data against future threats from quantum computers has been successfully established by the BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem Centre and its Eurosystem partners, Banque de France and Deutsche Bundesbank.


Project Leap: Protecting in the quantum age

Quantum computers, once they reach sufficient size and power, will be able to easily break the cryptographic encryption schemes currently used to ensure secure financial transactions and data.

While functional quantum computers are not yet available, the security threat needs to be urgently addressed.

Already, malicious actors can intercept and store confidential, classically encrypted data with the intention of decrypting it later when quantum machines become powerful enough to do so.

This means that data stored or transmitted today are, in fact, exposed to “harvest now, decrypt later” attacks by a future quantum computer.

This is one of the most significant cybersecurity threats facing the financial system today, potentially exposing all transactions and much of our existing stored financial data to attack.

Experts refer to that risk as “Q Day.”

To prepare central banks and the global financial system for a transition towards quantum-resistant encryption, the BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem’s Project Leap is investigating how to update and replace the cryptographic security algorithms that the financial system is critically reliant on.

It is already feasible to implement quantum-resistant cryptographic protocols.

However, implementing them in financial systems raises a number of challenges. Specifically, the lack of flexibility in legacy systems means that a major transition effort will be necessary.

The Leap report presents a comprehensive overview of the experiments conducted and the initial technical findings that can help guide the global transition towards new cryptographic protocols.

The project involved transmitting test payment messages via this quantum-resistant VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel between servers located in Paris and Frankfurt, thereby demonstrating how critical financial data can be protected.

The experiment’s success paves the way for the BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem Centre and its partners to build a complete chain of trust for central bank applications in the post-quantum world, acting as a blueprint for the financial system.

“Project Leap makes an important contribution to mitigating the threat posed by quantum computers to the confidentiality of financial data and the stability and integrity of the global financial system,” comments Raphael Auer, Head of the BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem Centre.

“While we do not know exactly when quantum computers will be strong enough to crack today’s encryption, central banks need to prepare themselves. Project Leap is a blueprint for how they can do so.”

To download the report CLICK HERE


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