The current encryption landscape: The need for 3072-bit keys

I have been in the financial industry my whole career, protecting NPI and PII data. However, as we enter the era of quantum computing, strong encryption standards become even more crucial, especially in the financial industry, to protect against quantum-powered cyber threats capable of breaking traditional encryption methods. By strengthening our encryption, we ensure the security of sensitive financial transactions and consumer data against future quantum attacks, maintaining trust in financial systems.

Strong encryption standards play a role in any industry as they have far-reaching effects on security, privacy, compliance and innovation.

Nowadays, encryption standards such as RSA and ECC (elliptic curve cryptography) commonly utilize lengths ranging from 1024 to 2048 bits. While these key sizes are currently deemed secure against brute force attacks by computers, they may not provide security against quantum computers. For instance, a quantum computer employing Shor’s algorithm might potentially crack a 2048-bit RSA key within eight hours.

Why you should consider employing a length of 3072 bits

  • Improved Quantum Resistance: Opting for a length of 3072 bits offers enhanced resistance against attacks from quantum computing. The larger size presents a challenge for quantum algorithms like Shor’s algorithm. By adopting this security measure, as an industry we can ensure that data encrypted today remains secure amid advancements in quantum technology.
  • NIST Recommendations: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) explicitly recommends the use of 3072-bit keys as part of their guidelines for quantum cryptography. Following these guidelines ensures compliance with recognized standards and industry best practices.

Safeguarding data for the future within the world of cybersecurity transcends the immediate need to protect ongoing transactions. It embodies a broader, more strategic commitment to preserving the integrity, availability and confidentiality of data over the long term. This endeavor is critical not only for the continuity of businesses and governments but also for ensuring the privacy and security of individuals’ information.

Striking a cybersecurity balance

To future-proof our data and augment its long-term security, it is imperative that we embrace the utilization of 3072-bit keys for data encryption. This decision strikes a balance between efficiency and strong security measures, taking into account the advancements in quantum computing technology.

Finding the right balance in cybersecurity, particularly in the context of encryption key lengths, involves careful consideration of security strength, operational requirements and the computational overhead associated with different key sizes. The recommendation of choosing 3072-bit keys as an effective approach is a reflection of this balance.

How to get started with 3072-bit encryption

To move toward 3072-bit encryption, begin by evaluating your encryption methods and pinpointing areas that need improvement. Seek guidance from cybersecurity professionals to grasp the prerequisites and any compatibility concerns with your system.

The procedure entails updating libraries, acquiring certificates and ensuring that all interconnected systems can accommodate the upgraded encryption standard. It’s a process that involves prioritizing data and systems, followed by comprehensive testing to guarantee the preservation of integrity and performance.

Addressing challenges and considerations

There are obstacles and concerns that businesses need to consider when transitioning to 3072-bit encryption keys. One of the challenges is accommodating needs as larger key sizes naturally impact encryption and decryption processes. This can potentially affect both user experience and system efficiency in data processing settings.

Additionally, since existing hardware and software infrastructures may not support the requirements of 3072-bit cryptography, modifications to these infrastructures may be necessary. Such changes typically require study and careful planning.

Interoperability considerations are also crucial to ensure compatibility with systems used by organizations. Maintaining compatibility is vital for business operations.

Information technology teams involved in implementing and managing encryption systems can benefit from skill development through training. For individuals to achieve success, they must understand the intricacies involved in these processes.

Moreover, it’s important to recognize that this change isn’t a one-time fix; it is an ongoing element of a larger cybersecurity strategy. With the evolution of quantum computing technology, encryption standards will also progress accordingly. Companies must remain vigilant and adaptable to respond to the evolving environment.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the Forbes Innovation blog. See the original here. Mike Housch is a member of the Forbes Technology Council.