A London, U.K. based cybersecurity company, PQShield, has raised $20 million in funding to further develop its advanced quantum-ready cryptography solutions for hardware, software and communications.
PQShield specializes in post-quantum cryptographic solutions which include ready-made and tailored hardware cryptography IPs for low and high-end devices (secure elements, hardware security modules (HSMs); IoT firmware; public key infrastructure (PKI); server technologies; and advanced end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms. The company said it is already experiencing a surge in demand from sectors including semiconductor, defense, automotive OEM, industrial IoT, and technology consulting.
Its PQSoC product is a configurable system-on-chip design built from PQShield’s modular IP cores, offering features and functionality suitable for smart cards and other hardware-based secure elements. The components of PQSoC have been designed to implement upcoming post-quantum cryptographic standards — while also offering efficient interoperability with legacy algorithms. Available as both a modular IP or self-contained solution, it is FIPS 140-3 ready and side-channel attacks resistant.
Software components include PQSLIB, a library of post-quantum cryptographic primitives that utilizes the special hardware features offered by PQSoC. These low-level primitives can be used to replace or complement legacy cryptography in applications. The implementations match current NIST post-quantum standardization finalists for digital signatures, key establishment and encryption, and are constantly updated as the process nears completion.
A full system emulator, PQSE, allows efficient application development and debugging. The emulator covers both the CPU core and the cryptographic peripherals, so applications can be tested at near-real time speeds without resorting to hardware circuit simulation.
The latest funding for the company comes at a key moment in what’s considered to be a ‘global race against the quantum security threat’. Almost every organization, government and device in the world relies on public-key cryptography that could be rendered useless by large-scale quantum computers. The vast processing power of these machines will easily solve the mathematical problems underpinning public-key algorithms, putting sensitive information at risk.
PQShield said the result could be devastating, with everything from medical records to national intelligence, intellectual property, financial transactions and secure end-to-end messaging all exposed to decryption. In fact, threat groups may already be gathering encrypted information unnoticed, with the aim of decrypting it as soon as they have access to sufficiently powerful quantum computers.
With rapid digital transformation and growing cyber warfare threats, the risk is so serious that national security agencies have put the quantum threat high on their agendas. This year, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will finalize a process to replace current cryptographic standards with new, quantum-secure algorithms.
PQShield said its team has one of the world’s highest concentrations of software and hardware cryptography experts outside academia and the classified sector. The company is a leading contributor to the NIST post-quantum standardization project: two of its algorithms are finalist candidates, and PQShield team members are advising on all other algorithms in development. Members of the PQShield team have also contributed multiple cryptographic extensions to RISC-V, the open standard instruction set architecture (ISA) that is rapidly gaining traction from proprietary competitors such as Arm and Intel, the company stated in its press statement.
Headquartered in the U.K. and with teams in the U.S., France, and the Netherlands, PQShield said it is pioneering the development and commercial roll-out of advanced, quantum-ready cryptographic solutions for hardware, software and communications. Its products are compatible with existing infrastructure and are ready for companies to deploy now, ensuring protection against today’s threats as well as future quantum attacks.
PQShield CEO and founder, Ali El Kaafarani, said, “As new cryptographic standards are finalized and rolled out, the scale of demand for quantum-ready solutions cannot be understated. From software to hardware, no industry is immune to the quantum threat, and as powerful quantum machines move ever closer, so does the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. This investment will enable us to double down on our growth, continue contributing to leading standards organizations like RISC-V International and NIST, and take another step towards protecting all businesses from this generation-defining security threat.”
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