In the lead up to National Cyber Week, we are working with Austcyber Canberra Cyber Security Innovation Node in featuring some of Canberra’s leading cyber companies.

We spoke to Vikram Sharma, Founder and CEO of QuintessenceLabs. Learn about what they do, what they are proud of and why Canberra is the best place to do business.

Tell us about your company, when and why was it founded?

Recognising the potential of quantum cybersecurity in the early 2000s while in California, Vikram was inspired to commercialise the technology, returning to the Australian National University to work with the Quantum Optics Group in the Department of Physics. QuintessenceLabs emerged in 2008 from the world-leading research conducted by the group, and is today positioned at the forefront of the cybersecurity sector.

What products and services do you provide?

QuintessenceLabs is a leader in advanced data protection solutions, focused on delivering the strongest protection for your data both today and tomorrow.

QuintessenceLabs offers sophisticated data protection capabilities with the latest in quantum innovation to deliver the strongest security foundation for all your data today. In addition, QuintessenceLabs is leading the development of next generation quantum cybersecurity solutions that will keep our data safe from even more sophisticated attacks in the future, such as those from quantum computers.

Products and services include:

  • QuintessenceLabs’ flagship Trusted Security Foundation, a truly integrated solution that builds the strongest foundation for encryption. Delivering key management, policy management, and high-speed quantum random number generation, it integrates seamlessly with in-house or third party encryption capabilities, to provide the strongest security for sensitive data.
  • The world’s fastest quantum random number generators, ensuring that encryption keys will properly protect your data, wherever it is
  • Unique ultra-secure protection capabilities for data in high risk environments
  • Leadership in quantum key distribution, securing the exchange of keys even from the security threat of quantum computers, protecting your data using the laws of physics.

In addition, QuintessenceLabs’ Quantum Safe Architecture and Quantum Safe Methodology support organizations as they plan their transition to a quantum safe future.

Tell us about the skillset and dynamic of the team?

From a technical side, QuintessenceLabs combines renowned quantum physicists with software developers and cyber-security leaders, bringing decades of experience to develop powerful combined quantum cybersecurity capabilities. This is complemented by a strong operations and business team with a breadth of experience running and growing complex hardware tech companies, and successfully bringing these solutions to market.

Tell us about the current cyber landscape in Australia?

Australia is in an enviable position when it comes to quantum technology as well as cybersecurity. Quantum computing and quantum cybersecurity are already creating high value jobs in Australia. This will only increase in years to come as we are able to build on programs at top universities developing the next generation of world class cyber-security leaders.

What advice do you have for startups and business around cyber security?

Cyber-security is one of the most impactful and rewarding fields to work in, reflecting an increasingly important need and with huge opportunity for growth. In the 2020 WEF Global Risks Report, World Economic Forum identified cybersecurity risks as second only to climate change in terms of likelihood.  There is clearly plenty of opportunity. A few pointers I would have for new businesses entering the field are:

  • Make sure you think far enough ahead and “skate where the puck is going”, considering not just today’s threats, but more importantly what people will need in a few years’ time
  • Develop a strong network both in the commercial and government sectors to ensure that you truly understand the challenges being faced
  • Don’t afraid to be bold and stand out – bold ideas are the ones that can truly change the world.

What are you most proud of so far?

From a professional context, I am particularly proud of the great strides that the QuintessenceLabs family has made over the past decade taking novel research of leading quantum physics and transforming it into solutions that are now making people safer every day, in large and small companies around the globe. This achievement received recognition by the World Economic Forum, who named QuintessenceLabs a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer in 2018, and then more recently, in 2020, a World Economic Forum Global Innovator.

What quote or philosophy do you stand by?

There are many great philosophies to live by, but one particular concept that comes to mind, is especially relevant to the amazing evolution we are seeing in cybersecurity, and the emergence of quantum technologies. Known as Amara’s law, it was coined by Stanford University computer scientist and long-time head of the Institute for the Future, Roy Amara.  He said that: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

Why do you think Canberra is a great place to do business?

Canberra’s unique status as the nation’s capital delivers a multitude of benefits. It has the advantages of a cosmopolitan city, but remains modest enough in size to allow real access, with many opportunities for meaningful networking both with private companies and government agencies. The ecosystem that supports new and emerging businesses in Canberra is remarkable for a city its size, fostering collaboration, growth, and success.