A national first was achieved on Wednesday, when the first link of the PRISM (Physical Security for Public Infrastructure in Malta) quantum communication network was turned on, operating in front of a public audience for the first time.

Merqury Cybersecurity Limited, which is the technical lead for the PRISM project, held the demonstration at the University of Malta, with support from the project’s six other consortium members spanning both the public and private sectors.

The demonstration, which was open to the public, took place at the University of Malta’s Faculty of ICT, and showcased a link to the University’s Department of Physics.

It publicly showcased pioneering quantum encryption technology in Malta for the first time, marking a significant milestone in the development of a robust nationwide quantum communication network, which promises to provide an unprecedented level of cybersecurity in the years to come.

André Xuereb, Founder and CEO of Merqury Cybersecurity Limited, said that what they demonstrated yesterday is “a groundbreaking technology which any entity can use to easily embrace next-generation cybersecurity. With this technology, anyone can incorporate quantum-secured communication into their network without having to overhaul their entire IT infrastructure.”

The quantum leap forward taken yesterday is a core component of the “groundbreaking” PRISM project. Co-funded by the EU, PRISM aims to deploy quantum-secured communication links over standard telecommunications networks across the entire country, a pioneering initiative in the EU, to bolster data security against both current and future cyber threats.

Merqury Cybersecurity Limited, a leader in the field, has been instrumental in the development and application of quantum technologies for secure cryptography and key distribution. These innovations range from quantum key distribution, a secure method for key exchange, to quantum-safe cryptography that safeguards against hacking and eavesdropping.

Noel Farrugia, CTO of Merqury Cybersecurity Limited, said that with this public demonstration, “we aimed to reach three goals. First, to showcase to the attendees what an actual quantum key distribution device looks like, and the physical requirements for such devices to work. Second, is the ease by which our software stack allows anyone to encrypt traffic with QKD-generated keys. Finally, we are continuing our efforts in raising awareness about what the quantum threat means, and what tools, techniques are available (QKD is one of many) to overcome such a threat.”

The demonstration showcased the initial part of a much bigger network that will be deployed across the Maltese islands over the coming months.

The PRISM project is being undertaken by Merqury Cybersecurity Limited, RSM Malta, Melita Limited, Umnai Limited, the University of Malta, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Directorate, and the Malta Information Technology Agency.

PRISM is an EU co-funded project which aims to establish a country-wide ultra-secure quantum communications network. There are seven Maltese partners in the project.

The project is being coordinated by RSM Malta, while Merqury Cybersecurity Limited is leading the technical efforts in collaboration with Melita Limited, Umnai Limited, and the University of Malta.

In addition, the public sector plays an active role in the project through the involvement of Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) and the Critical Infrastructure Protection Directorate within the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms, and Equality, both of which have a keen interest in the development of this ultra-secure network.

PRISM aligns with the European Commission's extensive efforts to develop a Europe-wide Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI). As Malta's designated project within this initiative, PRISM will spearhead the development of a quantum-secure network across the Maltese islands and its connection to the wider European network.

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