SES, spearhead of the quantum technology encryption network in Luxembourg


TAMPA, Florida – Satellite operator SES is leading a consortium to design a system to protect communications in Luxembourg from cyberattacks, which could fuel Europe’s larger plan for a network also protected by quantum technology.

The consortium will design a satellite and terrestrial network for the Luxembourg project Quantum Communications Infrastructure (LuxQCI), which the Luxembourg government is coordinating.

One of the main features of LuxQCI will be its use of quantum mechanics to distribute encryption keys, more securely than the networks that currently encrypt most communications in the world.

It aims to protect the communication networks surrounding confidential data, financial transactions, power grids and other critical infrastructure against evolving cybersecurity threats.

It comes as a slew of recent cyber attacks in the United States highlight the need to improve network security.

The CEO of the American software company Kaseya told Reuters on July 5 that between 800 and 1,500 companies worldwide have been affected by an attack on its operations.

A separate attack in May shut down a US pipeline that supplies a significant portion of gasoline and jet fuel to the East Coast.

SES, headquartered in Luxembourg, is leading the new consortium through its wholly-owned subsidiary SES Techcom, a solutions provider.

The other members of the group are also based in Luxembourg: the public IT infrastructure agency InCert, the consulting firm itrust, the data center company LuxConnect, the digital solutions provider LuxTrust and the Interdisciplinary Center for Security, the reliability and trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg.

Satellite cybersecurity will be an integral part of reliable quantum communications infrastructures, according to Steve Collar, CEO of SES.

“The secure and intrusion-resistant data exchange mechanisms developed here will serve as a flagship project that can be replicated on a larger European scale,” Collar said in a statement when the consortium announced on July 13.

Europe is developing a broader European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) initiative, aiming to be a federation of national networks across the region.

Luxembourg was among the first seven of the 27 members of the European Union to participate in EuroQCI, which the European Commission launched in June 2019 but which is still in its infancy.

Airbus said on May 31 that it was leading a consortium to develop EuroQCI, obtaining a 15-month study contract.

SES spokesperson Suzanne Ong said the consortium he leads will spend the next few months defining the scope of LuxQCI and how it can best support other European Union member states.

“The study will serve as a basis on which its findings can be implemented beyond Luxembourg to serve QCI’s wider European ambitions and make such an infrastructure scalable,” said Ong.

Arqit, the British startup on its way to becoming a state-owned company, aims to raise $ 400 million for a quantum technology encryption network.

The company said on June 11 that it was developing a federated version of this network, in partnership with the governments of Japan, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Austria, United States and United Kingdom

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