Croatia developing quantum communication networks to enhance cyber security

ZAGREB, 7 May (Hina) – Croatia is laying the groundwork for protecting critical national infrastructure and enhancing cybersecurity with the CroQCI project worth almost €10 million, it was said at the project ‘s presentation on Tuesday.

With this project, Croatia is more engaging more strongly in European and global trends for quantum networks, said Bojan Schmidt, project leader at the Carnet network, adding that co-financing comes from EU funds, National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the state budget.

The project, which began on 1 January 2023 and lasts until summer 2025, is Croatia’s way of dealing with the increasing use of digital technologies and the Internet as well as the growing frequency of cyberattacks and the availability of increasingly powerful computers to attackers, he said.

“The cryptographic methods for Internet security known today will not be available in the future, and part of our new infrastructure will be part of a broader European infrastructure for enhancing the foundations of information security by combining classicВ and known telecommunications infrastructures with innovative quantum solutions based on the laws of quantum physics.”

Schmidt said these networks should prevent any unauthorized access to Internet channels, wiretapping, theft of sensitive data, and similar threats.

Special emphasis is placed on state information infrastructure in energy, finance, healthcare, telecommunications, and all other critical sectors for the functioning of the state.

Such infrastructure will be operationally applicable in telecommunications environments in the next two to three years, he said.

Everyone will benefit from this but for now, due to the bulky physical equipment that is needed, the focus is on existing data centers of national interest and on establishing the infrastructure for critical sectors. With technological advancements, this will also benefit smaller institutions and the business sector.

Martin Lončarić, a physicist at the Ruđer Bošković Institute, said this was a significant undertaking and that the Institute had been laying the groundwork for this for years. He mentioned the Institute’s participation in a similar large-scale project in the United Kingdom in 2021 and in international quantum communication between Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia as part of a G20 meeting.

“These were the foundations and the precursor to the current construction of this secure communication infrastructure and resistance to attacks by quantum computers, which are also developing now and are expected soon worldwide and will be capable of breaking Internet security as we know it. The solution then lies in quantum physics and encryption, which we will integrate into Croatian infrastructure,” Lončarić said.

Bernard Gršić, state secretary of the Central State Office for Digital Society Development, said this project was strategically important for the country. The goal of the EU’s Digital Decade by 2030 is to have quantum computers and technologies for data transmission in quantum networks to ensure safer communication and data traffic protection, he added.

“This involves an innovative approach to connecting networks that prevent breaking into data. We must be aware that the Internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place and we need to educate ourselves and utilize artificial intelligence and other digital technologies to better protect ourselves,” he said.