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Future proofing cyber security for the healthcare sector with quantum communications

Cyber security is crucial to the healthcare sector. Find out how quantum communications could help to secure patient data. 

Advances in quantum computing pose a real threat to current encryption techniques underpinning the world’s cyber security infrastructure, and in fact, data could be intercepted and downloaded now, ready to be decrypted later. Any breaches in cyber security resulting in the leaking of any confidential patient data could have major legal and financial implications, risking the operations of essential healthcare services. It is therefore imperative that healthcare providers and suppliers act now to protect their data and communications.

To future proof-cyber security, researchers at the Quantum Communications Hub are developing quantum networking technologies to demonstrate that quantum secure communications can operate in the real world alongside conventional communications infrastructure. The UK’s first quantum network, the UKQN, was launched in 2018 by the Hub and provides a secure link spanning 410km, connecting Bristol to Cambridge. The UKQN was subsequently expanded with the launch of the UKQNtel in 2019. This network extends the UKQN by 125km to Ipswich, and uses previously installed standard commercial grade optical fibre, providing a testbed for new quantum secure communications technologies and systems and paving the way for future commercialisation of quantum communications technologies.

Once quantum networks are implemented, healthcare providers and suppliers will be able to trust that sensitive data can be transferred up and down the country completely securely, without the worry of interception and decryption. There is also the possibility for healthcare providers to install their own small-scale local quantum networks, facilitating the secure transfer of data internally across medical campuses.