An Exploration of Digital Forensics on Quantum Mechanical Computers

Date
2022
Authors
Closser, Dayton Cronan
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Abstract

A novel approach into digital quantum forensics on real, present-day quantum mechanical computers are explored and discussed. To date, little forensic research exists on quantum computing systems in general, and practically no empirical experiments exist in the digital forensics recovery context. This work reveals new means to collect, analyze, and determine quantum forensic artifacts at the circuit-level from today’s most advanced, publicly accessible 5-qubit Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum systems. Live, post-mortem, and anti-forensic measures specific to these quantum systems, including classical quantum simulations, will also be discussed. Methods and techniques native to quantum physics experiments, such as quantum randomized benchmarking, are investigated as means and as avenues to identify, collect, and preserve quantum forensic artifacts, and forensic evidence from a quantum computer. This work also discusses the approaches for live forensics of quantum computers via both a look at current research on the matter, and through a demonstration of live data collection. These analyses conducted on real quantum computers are the major results of this work, revealing the feasibility of quantum forensics. As well, this exploration builds upon current proposed quantum frameworks and quantum methodologies where compatible, whilst crucially re-framing them in a novel way around the bizarre phenomena of measurement. Furthermore, this work will largely refute Richard E Overill’s assertion that it is not possible to perform live forensics on quantum systems and highlight the viability of quantum forensics as a future field. Overall, the contributions of this thesis produce and reveal digital forensic artifacts on International Business Machines and Google quantum mechanical computers–the world’s first look in such a context–and a feat which has never been accomplished before now.

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Keywords
Cybersecurity & Physics, International Business Machines Quantum Computers, Quantum Cybersecurity, Quantum Digital Forensics, Quantum Forensics, Quantum Mechanics
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Department
Information Systems and Cyber Security