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Professor André Xuereb, an established researcher in quantum physics, has announced the launch of the PRISM (Physical Security for Public Infrastructure in Malta) project. This is an ambitious project that aims to set up the very first quantum communication network in Malta, spanning the entire country. This project is one of a group of 26 intended to create an ultra secure communications network throughout the European Union.

The project is made up of a consortium coordinated by RSM Malta; the members are Merqury Cybersecurity Limited; Melita Limited; the University of Malta; Umnai Limited; the Critical Infrastructure Protection Directorate within the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality; and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA).

The initial funding for the project is €11.6 million, of which €5.8 million has been committed by the European Commission as part of the Digital Europe Programme 2021-2027, in terms of designing , developing and deploying the EuroQCI, which consists of a terrestrial segment relying on fibre communications networks linking strategic sites at national and cross-border level and a space segment based on satellites. Such a project will be an integral part of the new Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite (IRIS2) making it a highly ambitious project that will put Malta on the quantum technologies map. The Digital Europe Programme is an EU funding programme focused on making Europe more digital and bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens, and public administration.

Through the project, ground-breaking quantum cryptography technology and associated hardware will be developed that will ensure digital information is secure against any potential attack, known or unknown, now and in the future.

As Prof. Xuereb explained, problematic cybersecurity is a threat to the EU, its values, and its existence. Over the past few years, Europe has been at the forefront of developing innovative, quantum cybersecurity solutions. With the creation of Merqury Cybersecurity Limited, Malta will be established as a global leader in the field of quantum cryptography.

Today the gold standard of data encryption is achieved using mathematical algorithms which, given enough time and computing power, can be defeated. Using quantum mechanics to protect data before it is sent over the internet guarantees that the data cannot be eavesdropped upon or even intercepted and stored for future decryption – regardless of the future technological developments.

PRISM will involve building a network of about 20 secured connections on the Melita fibre network across Malta and onwards to Sicily via the Melita undersea fibre cable. In the second phase of the EU-wide initiative, scheduled to start in 2025, the Maltese network will be connected to similar quantum networks in neighbouring EU states. The third phase will involve quantum satellites for covering distances across all EU states.

This project is co-funded by the European Union’s Digital Europe Programme, project PRISM (Grant Agreement no. 101111875). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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