Ian Fleming\u2019s creative libertiesWhen he published a series of James Bond novellas in 1960, Ian Fleming took a few linguistic liberties with the title of \u2018A Quantum of Solace\u2019. The word quantum means \u2018minimum\u2019, and the overall phrase refers to how two people must provide each other a minimum of solace (comfort or consolation) during times of great stress to prevent the relationship from breaking down.The technology world is entering just such a period.\u00a0 Our relationship with security is entering a period of stress that has only just started.\u00a0Quantum computing applies theories from theoretical physics to perform extremely complicated computations.\u00a0 Simply said, what is normally a binary process \u2013 bits of data being either a one or a zero \u2013 are re-examined at a base level.\u00a0 Instead of being an either\/or question, quantum computing bases its calculations on being both at the same time.\u00a0These calculations rely on the use of so-called quantum bits, which exist in a two-state permutation.\u00a0 In physics, they could be construed as being in a horizontal and a vertical axis simultaneously.\u00a0 In computing, they would be said to be in a superposition of both 1 and 0 simultaneously.\u00a0 So while we physically cannot be in two places at once, it is at least theoretically possible.\u00a0 Now, that theory is quickly becoming a reality in the digital space.The secret of our successThis year has witnessed remarkable advances in quantum computing.\u00a0 It began in the universities of course.\u00a0 But what began with an innovation trickle has quickly become an investment flood.\u00a0Microsoft teamed up with the University of Sydney.\u00a0 Google is investing in a big way.\u00a0 So is IBM.\u00a0 But it\u2019s not just Silicon Valley.\u00a0 The U.S. government is investing in quantum computing research.\u00a0 Britain too.\u00a0 And France.\u00a0Britain wants to improve weather forecasting, and NASA is using it to develop better space travel options.\u00a0 Quantum computing will speed up new drug discovery by doing virtual clinical trials.\u00a0 With autonomous vehicles looming ever closer, quantum computing could optimize traffic controls.\u00a0It\u2019s not just the big players either.\u00a0 Startups like Rigetti Computing, IonQ, and QxBranch are quickly attracting venture capital dollars on the promise of big payouts sooner rather than the \u2018later\u2019 projected a couple of years ago.So, why should anyone be interested, much less concerned, about this?\u00a0 Well, it\u2019s not that quantum computing will radically speed up computer calculations (it will), or that it will make predictive models far more accurate and useful (that too).\u00a0 The big reason for all of the media brouhaha is that it will soon render all current encryption obsolete.Enter 1984 in 2017All of it.\u00a0 Your secure https webpage? \u00a0Cracked.\u00a0 That RSA token that allows you into an office building?\u00a0 Cracked.\u00a0 The tokens used by Apple Pay?\u00a0 Cracked. The key fob for your expensive new Mercedes (as well as your older, efficient Toyota)? Cracked! \u00a0All of the cost & time savings promised by the \u2018Internet of Things\u2019? Cracked! \u00a0Seeing the pattern here?All of the recent hand-wringing about end-to-end encryption on smartphone messaging apps (yes, I\u2019m guilty too), means not just government agencies could get into your private files.\u00a0 It means anyone with quantum computing access will be able to do the same.\u00a0 Anyone.Cybersecurity analysts have confirmed that foreign actors \u2013 some friendly, some not so much \u2013 are downloading U.S. data files and storing them. To be specific, China, Russia, and Iran are making good headway in quantum computing.\u00a0Storage is cheap, remember?\u00a0 Well foreign actors (nation states, terrorist groups and criminal elements) are archiving as much encrypted data as they can \u2013\u00a0so they can decrypt it at a future date and unveil secrets the U.S. has been protecting for years.\u00a0 This will make our recent ransomware attacks seem like schoolyard hair-pulling by comparison.But it\u2019s not just government secrets at risk.\u00a0 It is all data \u2013 yours and mine \u2013 as well.\u00a0 Confidential corporate deals.\u00a0 Law firm files.\u00a0 Technology trade secrets.\u00a0 Personal medical histories.\u00a0 It\u2019s all about to be up for grabs to anyone willing to pay for the access.\u00a0 It will be as destabilizing to cyberwarfare as atomic science was to the Cold War.A quantum of solaceWhere & how this digital weapon-of-mass-destruction plays out is still unknown. Our government, corporate, and social leaders are going to have to address this issue with their constituents, customers, and voters. And, as with all battles, there are lessons to be learned from prior conflicts.\u00a0After a punishing first few years in World War II, Britain finally achieved a pivotal battlefield victory. Winston Churchill searched for the words to provide solace to his nation without understating the long, painful road still ahead.\u00a0 He wrote: \u201cThis is not the end. \u00a0It is not the beginning of the end.\u00a0 But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.\u201d\u00a0New encryption will be developed.\u00a0 But until it is economically and socially available to the masses, leaders will have to heavily invest in the systems, infrastructure, and personnel to keep our systems operating during some potentially dark days ahead. \u00a0We will all be looking for a bit of solace during that time.