Computer science / Cybersecurity

With $10M in funding, Bethesda-based Quantum Xchange is working on the future of encryption

The company is looking to secure data from an attack that utilizes quantum computing. To do so, it's also lighting up a fiber network.

Can Baltimore get better broadband access? (Photo by Flickr user Arild Nybø, used under a Creative Commons license)

A Bethesda, Md.–based company looking to apply quantum mechanics to cybersecurity announced $10 million in new funding this week.

The Series A investment round for Quantum Xchange was led by Boston-based New Technology Ventures.

According to CEO John Prisco, the company is developing a key that is designed to protect data from attacks that could utilize computing that could break through defenses much faster than what’s currently available.

“It’s making encryption safe for a world that has quantum computers,” Prisco said, adding that work on the effort began at Battelle Memorial Institute. The company was launched in January.

The new type of tool also requires its own network, Prisco said. The company’s optical keys would be transmitted over a fiberoptic network that is able to process the information. Prisco said the company acquired dark fiber in the Northeast U.S., from D.C. to Boston. Initially, it plans to focus efforts on the New York City area, where it could connect financial markets and companies based on Wall Street with back offices in New Jersey. The company will sell unlimited access to the keys via subscription.

“We’ve got a network to send them over and we’ve got the ability to send them just any distance needed,” Prisco said.

The company has a partnership with Swiss company ID Quantique to provide hardware at a customer’s location to receive the keys, Prisco said.

With the funding, Quantum Xchange will look to add dev talent to its team of 20 people, as well as sales operations in the Northeast cities where it will initially operate.

While there have been promising developments, quantum computing is not in wide use. Prisco said the company is looking to prepare for the technology could be used in an attack. The area’s cybersecurity community, anchored by government agencies and labs, is often looking at how to prevent attacks that utilize new technologies, even if they have not yet become widely used. Companies like Quantum Xchange are commercializing that work for use in industries like finance and healthcare, as well as use by the government.

To a founder like Prisco, the fact that it’s still early days for quantum computing isn’t the key issue. He sees the advances coming, and thinks people should be ready if the technology could leveraged in an attack.

“I think everyone has come to the realization that their data will be stolen, and the question is if you know you’re going to lose data, you better encrypt it with something that can’t be broken,” he said.

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