Protecting Cryptos In the Era of Quantum Computing
December 2021 | Leslie Michael Jr. | Crypto Coin Show
The promise of revolutionary computing during this Information Age is being challenged with extensive hardware and software requirements.
Quantum computing took a giant leap forward with IBM becoming the first quantum computing hardware company to go public. Two teams of Chinese scientists also claimed to achieve quantum advantage recently. All of this is trending toward further announcements that quantum computing is entering the mainstream faster than most of us expect.
IBM created a quantum processor able to process information so complex the work can’t be done or simulated on any classical computer, CEO Arvind Krishna told Axios. Krishna sees some people looking at these new technologies as science fiction, yet he sees it as a feat of engineering.
Quantum technology could help address problems too challenging for today’s powerful supercomputers. It could cut the research and development time and costs for a plethora of complex technical, engineering and medical issues.
Despite many reasons to be excited by these developments, there are reasons to be concerned too. There is a dark side.
Like so many technology advancements, the problem is updating older technology to keep up with newer ones. Quantum computing could make digital cryptography and other forms of secure communication techniques vulnerable. Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and similar cryptocurrencies rely fundamentally on cryptography, which is the use of codes and keys to secure private communication and storage of data.
Without quantum security, blockchain’s future is uncertain. With the global society that relies heavily on the internet, quantum-level computing puts its digital foundation in peril. If quantum computing gets good enough to crack today’s encryption techniques, it will mean crypto security will need higher forms of protecting data.
One intelligent targeted quantum computer could mean the stealing or even the destruction of an entire blockchain system. This could take cyber warfare to a James Bond type level with cryptocurrencies moving further into trillions of dollars in market cap.
Both the World Economic Forum and Deloitte recently predicted 10% of the total GDP could be held on a blockchain ledger by 2027. Which means crypto security needs to move fast to keep up with higher forms of cyber security holes quantum computing will undoubtedly bring.
IBM itself is warning the public of instant breaking of encryption by quantum computers:
“If you want to keep data safe for 10 years, you should seriously consider moving to alternate encryption now,” Krishna said in another interview.
Quantum computers will live in special facilities for the foreseeable future, accessible from the cloud. According to Krishna, 80,000 people have already taken runs at writing programs for IBM’s Q quantum computer from the web.
A question moving forward is how to protect ourselves from their potential disaster? Some blockchain creators and crypto security groups have started preparing. But will they move fast enough?
Like Y2K, there are reasons to think the coming quantum-computing revolution won’t destroy the hopes of a decentralized world built on the blockchain. The National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States is already considering 69 potential new methods for “post-quantum cryptography.”
There are few cryptographic techniques which would be completely redundant, if and when quantum computing goes mainstream. Which means the global society that is securing decentralized blockchain systems during this transition, may prove to be up to the challenge. Still it would be foolish to not take this possible threat to our global cyber security and privacy seriously.