Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Program (QEP) will begin conducting nationwide trials of quantum-secure communications technologies that promise robust network security for critical infrastructure and businesses handling sensitive data. The project, supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), starts with 15 private and government employees on board.
Network security is a cornerstone of today’s digital society. Public-key encryption, which protects some of the billions of bits of data exchanged every day, is notoriously vulnerable to attacks from quantum computers, which are potentially a million times more powerful than classical computers at some tasks. While today’s quantum computers are too small to crack encryption, calls to address the cybersecurity threat become more urgent as technology advances.
Quantum-secure communication technologies are designed to counter the threat posed by quantum computers with specialized hardware and new cryptographic algorithms. They could secure communication systems for governments, critical infrastructure like energy grids, and companies that handle sensitive data in areas like healthcare and finance.
The new National Quantum-Safe Network (NQSN) will use commercial technologies for trials with government agencies and private companies, conduct an in-depth assessment of security systems, and develop policies to help companies adopt such technologies.
“Singapore can build on its heritage in quantum science, optics and cybersecurity engineering to become a trusted global provider of quantum network technology and services. At the NQSN, we will bring quantum innovation to deployed optical networks, where we can work with our industrial partners to investigate operational issues such as the reliability and resilience of a quantum network,” said Assistant Professor Charles Lim, Lead Principal Investigator (PI) for the NQSN. from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Quantum Technologies of the National University of Singapore (NUS). He will work with three Co-PIs to achieve network goals.
Hosted by NUS, the initiative will receive S$8.5 million over three years. Staff will bring expertise, equipment and use cases to the project.
Mr. Ling Keok Tong, Director (Smart Nation & Digital Economy), NRF said, “The new National Quantum-Safe Network aims to enhance network security for critical infrastructures with superior quantum technology and solutions, while serving as a robust platform for the to serve the public – private cooperation. This is a hallmark of translational research excellence and also one of the key initiatives under the RIE2025 plan, which bolsters Singapore’s ongoing transition into a trusted digital innovation hub.”
dr Ong Chen Hui, Cluster Director (BizTech Group), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), said: “A national quantum secure network is an important step forward as we explore advances in quantum computing and network technologies. IMDA will continue to push the boundaries of frontier technologies to shape Singapore’s digital future. Together with NRF, NUS and our industrial and research partners, we will explore ways to operationalize and implement the quantum key distribution network across Singapore’s sprawling fiber optic network infrastructures.”
The joint research team expects to have the first nodes within a year. In parallel, they will establish a Quantum Security Lab to begin research into quantum vulnerabilities and secure design. They will also organize workshops with potential end users to better understand their needs and create awareness of the new technologies available.
Quantum Safe Living Lab
Initial plans for the deployment are to install 10 fiber-connected network nodes across Singapore, including two at NUS, two at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and others on government campuses and private company.
The nodes will be connected to provide a public network that can act as a living laboratory for organizations wishing to experience quantum-safe communication technologies, as well as separable government and private networks where dedicated users’ applications will be tested.
Another experimental node at NUS will create a free space connection to the public network and develop technologies that could extend secure connections to places that cannot be connected to fiber or even move, such as. B. Boats.
The network will provide the following technologies:
- Quantum Key Distribution – a hardware approach to quantum secure communications that requires the installation of devices to generate and receive quantum signals; and
- Post-Quantum Cryptography – Upgrading software to run new cryptographic algorithms that are considered resistant to attacks from quantum computers.
Extensive public-private partnerships
The project starts with more than 15 employees and will welcome new partners as the work progresses. This includes an earlier announcement by NUS of their collaboration for QEP with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and with Thales who 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 hardware.
- NetLink Trust will provide access to Singapore’s fiber optic network.
- AWS, Government Technology Agency of Singapore, 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 and provide hardware for integration into the network.
- The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) will cooperate its recognized Common Criteria test labs T-Systems and UL toward formal security certification of quantum-safe technologies.
- The Defense Science and Technology Agency, HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency), DSO National Laboratories and Horizon Quantum Computing will participate in quantum network research projects.
- IMDA will work with academic institutes, industry and research partners to find ways to operate and implement the NQSN on Singapore’s fiber optic network infrastructures.
The NQSN plans were developed in consultation with a working group that also included the Singapore Economic Development Board Singapore (EDB).
Michael Kasper, co-coordinator for the NQSN and department head for cyber and information security at Fraunhofer Singapore, said: “Quantum secure communications can play a crucial role in long-term information security. With NQSN, we want to demonstrate crypto-agile connectivity to our partners and support the deployment of quantum networks for wider use in industry and society.”
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