QuintessenceLabs scores further funding from Defence

The quantum cybersecurity firm has scored an additional AU$528,000 to develop a 'resilient' encryption method that could protect sensitive data on mobile assets.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Canberra-based quantum cybersecurity firm QuintessenceLabs (QLabs) has picked up additional funding from the Australian government, scoring AU$528,000 to progress encryption work for the Department of Defence.

The QLabs project aims to develop a "resilient" encryption method that could protect sensitive data on mobile assets in uncontrolled or hostile environments through Virtual Zeroisation technology.

The half a million-dollar injection comes from the Defence Innovation Hub kitty, and was announced alongside three other projects securing a total of AU$13.4 million.

Victoria-based Daronmont Technologies was awarded AU$7.9 million to build a prototype radar capability that could be used to replace existing technology used by Defence that is approaching end of life.

Teledyne Defence Australia received AU$3.4 million to develop a vehicle-mounted Improvised Explosive Device detection and clearance capability that uses radar and can be integrated with existing Defence deployable vehicles; and with AU$1.3 million, Sonartech Atlas will be investigating the potential of improving sonar performance and classification of underwater acoustic signals.

QLabs picked up AU$3.26 million in funding from Defence in July to continue the expansion of its quantum key distribution capabilities and develop an Australia-specific solution.

It is expected the solution will protect defence and other critical Australian government systems from "malicious cyber intrusion and disruption", and enhance the resilience of defence networks, both locally and abroad.

Speaking with ZDNet previously, QLabs CEO Vikram Sharma explained the bigger picture of what QLabs does is build random number generators using quantum techniques as well as build key management systems which generate, store, and distribute key material.

Quantum key distribution uses quantum properties to exchange secret information -- such as cryptographic keys -- in a way that's invulnerable to cyber threats. The security of quantum key distribution is based on a fundamental characteristic of quantum mechanics: The act of measuring a quantum system disturbs the system.

QLabs was formed in 2008 as a spin-off out of the physics department at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, although QLabs' product suite was developed independent of ANU.

At the time, the company was looking at commercialising some technology, research, and experimental work that came out of the physics department in the field of quantum cryptography or quantum key distribution.

In addition to its ties with ANU, QLabs has a linkage grant with the University of Newcastle and a partnership with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and its Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC2T).

The CQC2T currently houses a team of university researchers that is racing to build the world's first quantum computer in silicon.

The Defence Innovation Hub was launched in December 2016 to facilitate and nurture the development of innovative technology and ideas in support of Australia's Defence capability.

The federal government also announced a AU$730 million investment in Australia's Defence capability and innovation, launching the "Next Generation" Technologies Fund last March in a bid to thwart emerging attack methods via "creative solutions" that benefit Defence as well as the nation's industry.


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