France transmits its first post-quantum cryptographic diplomatic message (1 December 2022)


The French Embassy in the United States sent to Paris its first encrypted diplomatic message thanks to a new generation of so-called post-quantum cryptography, with the aim of withstanding the decryption capabilities of quantum computers.

Quantum computers will soon be able to crack the cryptographic algorithms used today: it is therefore essential to develop and master encryption technologies which allow us to protect sensitive communications in the future.

The message sent today, 30 November 2022, transmitted the memorandum signed on the same day between Mme Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research, and Dr Arati Prabhakar, Director of the United States’ Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), aimed at supporting quantum cooperation projects between France and its American partner. The memorandum is part of the Quantum Plan announced by President Emmanuel Macron in January 2021. It follows the conclusions of the G7 in Munich of 28 June 2022, which encourage G7 nations to cooperate on strategic issues concerning the development of the quantum industry and post-quantum cryptography solutions.

For this test, carried out during President Emmanuel Macron’s State visit to the United States, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs drew on the work of the startup CryptoNext Security, a business which emerged from research by INRIA, the CNRS and Sorbonne University and which is developing post-quantum cryptography solutions.

The French Quantum Plan benefits from €1.8 billion from France 2030. It includes a €150-million component for devising cryptographic methods resistant to quantum computing.

In the face of this systemic threat, the initiative prefigures the development of critical digital infrastructure in France. Taking into account this technological context and the current international environment, the French Government will set out an initial action plan by the end of the first quarter of 2023, incorporating a methodology and a timetable for this critical infrastructure’s migration to post-quantum cryptography.

The action plan’s aim will be to organize the migration to post-quantum cryptography. It will also make it possible to assert France’s progress in the area, taking into account the key issues of security, technology and industrial expertise. To encourage this industrial momentum, the plan will also have to be part of a coherent European action.