Quantum computing is significantly faster than its classical counterparts at solving certain types of problems, including those with applications in cryptography. Encryption is used to protect hard disk data, communication channels, and sensitive user data in large scale data centers from eavesdropping, misuse, and tampering. The use of quantum computers to carry out cyberattacks on these systems has the potential to expose a wide variety of user data placing data worth trillions of dollars at risk. Quantum computing courses presented in the computer science domain are typically introduced at a theoretical level with little emphasis on hands-on activities using real quantum hardware. Courses addressing quantum computing in the physics domain focus on quantum mechanical properties of materials. Meanwhile, industry is producing Noisy-Intermediate-Scale-Quantum computers paving the way for research on practical applications of quantum computing, including using off-the-shelf algorithms to solve problems related to cryptography, which are areas not currently covered in quantum computing courses . As a result, there is a widening gap between coursework and industry advancement that needs to be addressed to ensure there is an adequately skilled workforce prepared to address the opportunities and threats that will arise as quantum computing becomes more widely accessible. This project hopes to address this gap and to advance cybersecurity education through the development of a flexible and portable course that can be easily adopted.
This project intends to create a hands-on curriculum for undergraduate students, using the Quantum Security and Trust (QUEST) framework, to allow students to apply their newly acquired knowledge immediately as part of the learning process. The proposed curriculum rests on activities and games on the QUEST framework to reinforce relevant concepts. The students will create various circuits on QUEST and validate them in simulations and on real quantum hardware. This approach should enable personalized learning at low cost due to cloud-based access to quantum hardware and a simulator. It also hopes to facilitate self-learning of complex quantum computing concepts through hands-on activities. The proposed course can be taken by undergraduate students with minimal prerequisite knowledge. Therefore, a large population of undergraduate students can be exposed to quantum computing and cybersecurity early in their career.
This project is supported by the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, which funds proposals that address cybersecurity and privacy, and in this case specifically cybersecurity education. The SaTC program aligns with the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Strategic Plan and the National Privacy Research Strategy to protect and preserve the growing social and economic benefits of cyber systems while ensuring security and privacy.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
|Effective start/end date||6/15/21 → 5/31/23|
- National Science Foundation: $215,000.00