Safeguarding Quantum Science and Technology

Quantum information science has the potential to make revolutionary advances in science and engineering and drive innovation. World Quantum Day, April 14, was created to generate interest and enthusiasm for quantum mechanics.

The FBI protects new and game-changing technology as adversarial nation-states aggressively work to obtain a strategic advantage over the U.S.  They do so by stealing U.S. technologies and research to bolster their government’s policies that violate international norms, such as respect for the rule of law, fair trade, and complete scientific research collaborative reciprocity while damaging U.S. economic competitiveness and harming U.S. national and economic security.

The National Counterintelligence Task Force’s (NCITF) Quantum Information Science Counterintelligence Protection Team (QISCPT) unites the FBI with our intelligence and security partners to protect quantum information science and technology developed in the U.S. and like-minded nations.

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate states, “The Quantum Information Science Counterintelligence Protection Team leverages partnerships across government, academia, and private industry to protect progress in this field and thwart nation-state and other adversaries’ efforts to steal innovations. The QISCPT is working within the interagency framework of the National Counterintelligence Task Force to ensure that the U.S. and like-minded nations do not lose momentum in the successful development of quantum technology.”
As scientists race to develop these technologies, hostile nation-states stealing research and trade secrets is a critical risk.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) wants to fast-track getting these advanced tools through illegal or otherwise illicit technology transfer—for example, illegally taking technology from companies or academic institutions and transferring it to the adversary government for its use. The government of China is using every possible avenue to steal U.S. companies’ innovation. It is engaged in a well-resourced and systematic campaign to steal IP, compromise academic institutions, and put our companies out of business in pursuit of the “innovation-driven” economic growth highlighted in its Five-Year and Made in China 2025 strategic plans.

The FBI and NCITF developed security partnerships with technology developers, investors, and end-users to thwart adversaries’ efforts to steal quantum innovations. To aid in keeping the quantum field safe, they are increasing outreach to government research agencies, private sector companies, and academic institutions to help bolster the industry’s cybersecurity defenses and to coordinate any counterintelligence investigations associated with quantum technology.

Within NCITF, the Quantum Information Science Counterintelligence Protection Team (QISCPT) is tasked with protecting the quantum information science technology developed by the U.S. and like-minded nations. This team was created as a result of the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018, which established a coordinated federal program to provide and support accelerated quantum research for the U.S.’s economic and national security.

The QISCPT puts the FBI and intelligence and security agency partners within arm’s reach of representatives from all government agencies—not just the law enforcement and intelligence communities—and in contact with key players in the quantum information science and technology ecosystem. This access allows insight into the strengths and vulnerabilities of the field, allowing us to form a nuanced threat picture and positioning us to help protect vital U.S. innovation and security.

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