Quantum sensors as the key to new security strategies

Dr. Roman Bansen, Leiter Quantentechnologien in der Abteilung Schlüsseltechnologien der Cyberagentur. Foto: Andreas Stedtler/Cyberagentur

Innovative project launched to discover new attack vectors on microchips

This ambitious research project is exploring the future of security technology by utilising quantum sensors to identify new attack vectors on microchips in security-critical environments. Quantum sensors, known for their superior resolution and sensitivity, could represent a new quality leap in security research and technology.

The SCA-QS project is divided into two phases. The first phase focuses on testing the fundamental suitability of quantum sensor technology for side-channel attacks. A comprehensive comparison will be made between the new quantum sensors and conventional methods in order to assess their potential and effectiveness. The results will be documented in detail in a final report.

In the second phase, promising approaches are to be further developed on the basis of the findings from the first phase and demonstrated in a new laboratory setup. This proof of concept should enable the application of the developed technologies in real safety-critical scenarios.

Scientific cooperation and networking

A central aspect of the project is the networking of experts from the fields of quantum sensor technology and side-channel attacks. The initial information and partnering event on 10 June 2024 laid the foundation for long-term scientific exchange and collaboration. This interdisciplinary approach is intended to create synergies and promote mutual understanding between the two research areas. The collaboration and exchange between the previously largely separate scientific communities of quantum sensor technology and side-channel attacks will take security research to a new level. The project thus promotes not only technological innovation, but also interdisciplinary collaboration to actively shape the future of security technology.

Expected results and impact

The main research questions include investigating the potential of new quantum sensors for side-channel attacks, evaluating relevant measurement variables and parameters and identifying new attack vectors that could arise through improved sensor properties. In addition, the research aims to solve the problem of which quantum sensor approaches are suitable for at least matching or even exceeding the functionality, sensitivity and resolution of existing systems.

The targeted technology readiness level (TRL) of the project is around levels 3 and 4. With this forward-looking research, the SCA-QS project is positioning itself at the forefront of technological development and could make a significant contribution to increasing the security of microchips.

The invitation to tender was published in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union with the contract notice number TED 376178-2024: https://ted.europa.eu/en/notice/-/detail/376178-2024. The closing date for the call for tenders is 23 July 2024

Further information: https://www.cyberagentur.de/sca-qs

German Version