Transitioning to new cryptography is a notoriously tricky and lengthy task, and one it’s easy to ignore until it’s too late. It can be difficult to get for-profit organizations to spend on an abstract future threat years before that threat becomes reality.
“If organizations aren’t thinking about the transition now,” says Maurer, “and then they become overwhelmed by the time the NIST process has been completed and the sense of urgency is there, it increases the risk of accidental incidents … Rushing any such transition is never a good idea.”
As more organizations begin to consider the looming threat, a small and energetic industry has sprouted up, with companies already selling products that promise post-quantum cryptography. But DHS officials have explicitly warned against purchasing them, because there is still no consensus about how such systems will need to work.