The introduction piques our interest. Quantum computing may be here in 5 years – or 15 years – and that has been said for a number of years now. The spectre of quantum computing over blockchain may be more myth than reality — at least for a long time to come. Or maybe not. But ‘it’ will get here. Because Quantum is Coming. Qubit
Quantum computing could kill what blockchain stands for, but has a UK startup found a way to save it?
+ As with any significant leap, however, there comes a catch. For all the good that quantum computing promises, in the wrong hands it could pose a threat to classical computers, existing technologies and the technologies we’re pinning our hopes on for the future: namely, blockchains. Quantum computers could threaten the very fabric of the distributed ledger, with the ability to break everything the secure, decentralised, transparent networks stand for.
+ It may be five years from now – or it could be 15 – but society, economies and the security of our digital lives are under threat from the very technology that has been positioned to save us – quantum computing.
+ Since 2012, academics, experts from governments and industry giants including Intel, Microsoft and Cisco have been meeting annually to discuss solutions as part of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s Workshop on Quantum-Safe Cryptography.
+ In 2016, scientists at MIT and the University of Innsbruck built a quantum computer that they claimed could – if scaled up effectively – break RSA encryption, an incredibly common and widely used algorithm that is used to secure almost everything from text messages to our online purchases. \
+ This was closely followed by the launch of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Post-Quantum cryptography competition in early 2017, in which it called on experts to submit algorithms that are “capable of protecting sensitive information well into the foreseeable future, including the advent of quantum computers.” A total of 82 initial proposals were received. As of July 2020, this has been narrowed down to 15 and it is expected that the final standard will be refined and announced by 2024.
+ The reason blockchains are said to be particularly at risk is because of the way they are built and what they stand for.
+ When quantum computing gets cheap enough, there could be huge leaks of blockchain data. A post-quantum criminal could transmit a fraudulent block, or put a ‘fork’ in the chain meaning that every point forward would be based on a modified version of history. This could result in multiple versions of ‘histories’ that make it impossible to determine who owns valuable assets and see criminals steal what isn’t theirs.
+ This makes blockchains a natural and potentially lucrative target for hackers and as quantum computing increases in capabilities and becomes more accessible to more people, the risk to the blockchain from hackers rises further. This means it’s only a matter of time before robust quantum computers currently under development will be able to break larger and larger keys, and this could be as little as five years from now.
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