A quantum physicist is laying out the real-world impact of quantum computers on cryptography and cryptocurrency.
In a YouTube video, quantum physicist Anastasia Marchenkova shares her two cents about the race to break encryption technology with quantum computers.
“Shor’s [quantum] algorithm can break RSA and elliptic curve cryptography, which is a problem because a lot of our data these days is encrypted with those two algorithms. Quantum computers are not faster at everything. They’re just faster at certain problems and it just happens that this RSA and elliptic curve encryptions fall under that umbrella.
But there are other encryption algorithms that are not affected by quantum computers and we have to discover them and then actually implement them and put them into action before a large enough quantum computer actually emerges. [Breaking cryptography] requires a huge amount of qubits, something like 10 million qubits estimated. But it was one of the first discoveries of what practical application that quantum computers can actually do.
[Quantum computing] harnesses quantum properties to actually factor numbers a lot faster, and that’s the whole core of the security behind RSA encryption. The consequences of this is that our data is not going to be secure anymore if we get a big enough quantum computer. So we’re going to have to do something about it.”
Quantum computing has recently grabbed headlines as it poses a serious threat to cryptographic algorithms which keeps cryptocurrencies and the internet secure. Quantum computers have the capability to crack complex mathematical problems as qubits or quantum bits can maintain a “superimposition” by being in two states at a given time.
Meanwhile, Marchenkova doesn’t think crypto holders must find a way to move their Bitcoin to a quantum secure wallet immediately. But she does believe anyone holding crypto should be concerned and keep tabs on the latest developments because blockchains will one day need to be upgraded to protect against the rise of quantum computing.
“Yes, you should worry. But not anytime soon. You don’t need to move your Bitcoin today to some other quantum secure wallet… But in general, how do we upgrade the blockchain?
We can fork it and moving forward everything will be fine assuming we find a good quantum secure algorithm. But what are we going to do with all the old coins or the coins that have all private their keys lost? Are we just going to say ‘Sorry, bye, this part of the chain will no longer be valid unless you move it or re-encrypt it.’ Or are we going to find new technology?”