Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Program (QEP) will begin conducting nationwide trials of quantum-safe communication technologies that promise robust network security for critical infrastructure and businesses handling sensitive data.
Supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), the project is starting with 15 private and government collaborators on board.
Network security is the cornerstone of today’s digital society. The public-key encryption that protects some of the billions of bits of data exchanged every day is known to be vulnerable to attacks from quantum computers, which have the potential to be millions of times more powerful than classical computers for certain tasks. While today’s quantum computers are too small to break encryption, the calls to address the cybersecurity threat are becoming more urgent as technology advances.
Quantum-safe communication technologies are designed to counter the threat of quantum computing with specialized hardware and new cryptographic algorithms. They could secure communications systems for governments, critical infrastructure such as energy grids, and businesses handling sensitive data in areas such as healthcare and finance.
The new National Quantum-Safe Network (NQSN) will deploy commercial technologies for testing with government agencies and private companies, perform an in-depth assessment of safety systems, and develop guidelines to help companies adopt these technologies.
“Singapore can build on its heritage in quantum science, optics and cybersecurity engineering to become a trusted global provider of quantum network technologies and services. In NQSN, we will bring quantum innovation to deployed optical networks, where we can study operational issues such as the reliability and resiliency of a quantum network with our industry partners,” said Assistant Professor Charles Lim, Senior Principal Investigator (PI) for the NQSN, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Center for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore (NUS). He will work with three co-PIs to achieve the objectives of the network.
Hosted by NUS, the initiative will receive S$8.5 million over three years. Collaborators will bring their expertise, equipment and use cases to the project.
Mr. Ling Keok Tong, Director (Smart Nation & Digital Economy), NRF, said, “The new Quantum-Safe National Network aims to improve network security for critical infrastructure with superior quantum technology and solutions, while also serving as a sturdy platform for the audience. -private cooperation. This is a hallmark of excellence in translational research and it is also one of the key initiatives of the RIE2025 plan which reinforces Singapore’s ongoing transition to a trusted digital innovation hub.
Dr. Ong Chen Hui, Cluster Director (BizTech Group), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), said, “A secure national quantum network is an important step forward as we explore advances in quantum computing and network technologies. IMDA will continue to push the boundaries of cutting-edge technologies, to shape Singapore’s digital future. Together with the NRF, NUS, and our industry and research partners, we will explore ways to operationalize and implement the Quantum Key Distribution Network on Singapore’s vast fiber network infrastructure. .
The joint research team expects the first nodes to be operational within a year. In parallel, they will establish a Quantum Security Lab to begin advanced research on quantum security vulnerabilities and secure design. They will also organize workshops with potential end users to better understand their needs and make them aware of the new technologies available.
Quantum Safe Living Lab
Initial plans for the rollout call for 10 fiber-connected network nodes across Singapore, including two at NUS, two at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and others at the premises. government and private companies.
The nodes will be connected to provide a public network that can act as a living laboratory for organizations wishing to experiment with quantum-safe communication technologies, and separable government and private networks testing user-dedicated applications.
Another experimental node at NUS will establish a free-space connection with the public network, developing technologies that could extend secure links to places that cannot be connected to fiber or that can even move, such as boats.
The network will provide the following technologies:
- Quantum Key Distribution – a hardware approach to quantum secure communication requiring the installation of devices to create and receive quantum signals; and
- Post-quantum cryptography – software upgrades to run new cryptographic algorithms perceived to be resistant to attacks from quantum computers.
Comprehensive public-private partnerships
The project is starting with more than 15 collaborators and will welcome new partners as the work progresses. This also includes an earlier announcement from NUS about their collaborations for QEP with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and with Thales that will contribute to the NQSN.
Participating organizations will contribute to the network in different ways:
- NUS, NTU Singapore and Fraunhofer Singapore will provide expertise, coordination and locations for the materials.
- NetLink Trust will provide access to Singapore’s fiber optic network.
- AWS, Singapore Government Technology Agency, National Supercomputing Center (NSCC) Singapore and ST Telemedia Global Data Centers will contribute to the development of use cases.
- ST Engineering and Thales will work on network security, providing hardware for network integration.
- The Singapore Cybersecurity Agency (CSA) will work with its T-Systems and UL Common Criteria Accredited Testing Laboratories towards formal security certification of quantum secure technologies.
- The Defense Science and Technology Agency, HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency), DSO National Laboratories and Horizon Quantum Computing will participate in research projects on quantum networks.
- IMDA will work with institutes of higher learning, industry and research partners to find ways to leverage and implement the NQSN on Singapore’s fiber network infrastructure.
- The NQSN plans were developed in consultation with a working group also involving the Singapore Economic Development Board Singapore (EDB).
Michael Kasper, NQSN Co-Coordinator and Director of Cybersecurity and Information Security at Fraunhofer Singapore, said: “Quantum-safe communication can play a crucial role in long-term information security. term. With NQSN, we aim to demonstrate crypto-agile connectivity for our partners and support the deployment of quantum networks for wider use in industry and society.