How Serious Is the Threat of Quantum Computing to Crypto?

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The science of quantum physics is being used to build quantum computers — powerful machines that have the ability to solve incredibly complex mathematical equations much more quickly than even the most advanced computers available today.

As such, any data that’s encrypted using mathematical equations — including banking data, intelligence data protected by the government, and encrypted messages on cell phones — is vulnerable to being exposed by quantum computing. Most notably, in this case, encrypted cryptocurrency data — such as private wallet keys–are also vulnerable to quantum computing technology.

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In other words, quantum computing could potentially be used to uncover every private key on a blockchain network, thus rendering that network’s users vulnerable to hacking and theft.

Therefore, the point in time at which quantum computers can solve problems that ordinary computers cannot — also known as the “quantum supremacy” — is considered to be a serious threat to the security of blockchain networks.

Qubits and the “quantum supremacy”

How far away are we from this “quantum supremacy”?

“Last week,” joked Kadan Stadelmann, CTO of Komodo, a multichain architecture project, to Finance Magnates. 

In any case, “jokes apart, from a technical standpoint, we have to consider the ‘quantum supremacy’ era already here – now. The industry leaders in this area have already publicly presented functional two to three-figure qubit chips, which means with ‘unlimited’ resources and space, this could be scaled up quite fast.”

“Google, for example, just presented how their 54 Qubit chip performed a computation which would take the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years in just 200 seconds. This doesn’t even cover the non-public segment of this industry.”

Still, though, “quantum processors threaten only the modern generation of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin,” Vlad Miller explained to Finance Magnates.

“To protect them, users will have to switch to new authentication methods for authorizing transactions in blockchain-based networks.”

Indeed, “the solution to this problem will be new methods of cryptography resistant to quantum computing. Today many crypto companies are developing a wide range of such solutions. Some of them are based on long-discovered mathematical methods, such as Lamport’s signatures, Merkle structures, and the sharing of secrets.”

Therefore, it is quite likely that blockchain networks will be secure from the threat that quantum computing poses. “Platforms will ‘change their locks’ once quantum computers start to move out of the lab,” said Matthew Hine, Business Strategist at Radix., to Finance Magnates.

“But everyone should be very hesitant to publicly publish encrypted information with the expectation that it will be secret forever.”

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