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Infineon’s Latest Chip Tackles Post-Quantum Security

Infineon’s latest Trusted Platform Module has a mechanism to still update device firmware after quantum computing breaks existing algorithms.

Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies introduced a new chip in its OPTIGA TPM family for post-quantum cryptography, the company says.

The new OPTIGA TPM chip offers a firmware update mechanism with a 256-bits key length as well as a check based on quantum computing, the company says. Based on a standard trusted platform module, the chip is used to prevent unauthorized software or firmware changes, and protect the integrity and confidentiality of data at rest and in transit. The new firmware mechanism will make it possible for a device to defend itself against attempts by attackers with access to quantum technologies to corrupt the firmware, as well as give the device a way to update its own firmware using quantum methods, Infineon says.

Researchers have been exploring how to use quantum mechanical properties to solve mathematical problems and perform tasks which could take modern high-powered supercomputers years to complete. Quantum computing could accelerate development of medications, or optimize logistics processes and make supply chains more robust. They can also break modern cryptography, which would impact the security of modern communications.

“If large-scale quantum computers are ever built, they will be able to break many of the public-key cryptosystems currently in use,” The National Institute of Standards and Technology says on its Computer Security Resource Center page. While building large-scale quantum computers post a significant engineering challenge, there are estimates that within 20 years, a big enough system capable of breaking all current public key schemes could be built, NIST says.

The goal of post-quantum cryptography, or quantum-resistant cryptography, is to develop cryptographic systems secure against both quantum and current machines. NIST has been soliciting and evaluating different algorithms to “standardize one or more quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms.”

Infineon says this TPM also provides an expanded non-volatile memory to store new features such as additional certificates and cryptographic keys.

Infineon has more details about the new chip in its release.