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Is quantum computing a threat to cryptographic security? The report says that maybe

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According to a 38 page reportQuantum computing, a technology that could make defeating traditional encryption a trivial matter, could pose a threat to cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

But how imminent is this threat? Is there any way to fight it? Read on as we review some of the results of the report.

The quantum opportunity and the threat

For those who are not familiar, quantum computing is potentially one of the most important developments in the evolution of computing power. However, the way it operates is fundamentally different from what some call classical computing. That means that quantum computing can be exceptionally, even absurdly more efficient in some tasks, while still lagging behind other tasks for which classical computing is still more appropriate. For now.

Experimental quantum computers have been around for some years, and according to recent reports, Google leads the charge and has apparently made some impressive advances that have made everyone speak.

The concern here in regards to cryptocurrency is that hypothetically a quantum computer that specializes in decrypting private keys in a cryptocurrency network like bitcoin could cause all trust in the network to be lost and, consequently, all the value In it be destroyed. To put it another way, if bitcoin wallets can be hacked directly, people will stop trusting it and, consequently, will lose value and delay or stop adoption. Or, as described by the QAN report:

Once it breaks (private key cryptography) … digital currency like bitcoin and ethereum would no longer be immutable because it would be easy to change records, since there would be no security measures left.

However, quantum computing is not all pessimism. With some experts predicting that quantum computing will be more widely available in just 10 years, it could change the way we live our lives soon after.

Planning for the future

Experts have been aware of the imminent eventuality of a future of post-quantum computing for years. As such, several cryptocurrency projects with specialized algorithms specifically designed to be immune to quantum computing were launched through specialized techniques and mathematical principles. However, many other projects lack such defenses.

According to the report, hope is not completely lost, even with these chains that may have potential weaknesses for a quantum threat. If we look at bitcoin, which uses an algorithm known as SHA-256, there is a possibility that a quantum computer can be built that can beat this algorithm (although it would still potentially take many dozen years to break into a single private key))

However, it seems that, given the limitations of technology as it exists, a cryptocurrency such as bitcoin could simply update the encryption scheme used in the network to one such as SHA-512, which is more complex and requires enormously greater computing power to function. through.

In other words, as long as a blockchain project still has people who are actively developing for it, changes can be made as necessary so that the chains stay one step ahead of the quantum curve. However, if a popular chain (or even a niche) is not updated regularly, it is conceivable that it may eventually be the victim of a quantum attack.

Is cryptocurrency the future of money?

Read: Is cryptocurrency the future of money?

Should you be worried?

The good news is that there is no need to panic at this time. Currently, quantum computing is exclusively in the hands of research institutions and mega corporations. In addition, since these devices are extremely experimental in nature, the development of a specialized device that uses highly patented technology for the sole purpose of hacking a blockchain would not go unnoticed.

It is also very reasonable to assume that as quantum computing continues to develop, most blockchain and cryptocurrency projects will begin to migrate to the use of more complex algorithms that are quantum resistant, if not quantum proof.

As to whether this change will be easy or not, it is unknown and depends largely on the architecture of the blockchain and how ready and willing its propagators (miners and stakers) are to be updated.

Another potential consequence of such a change would be the immediate obsolescence of all mining hardware designed to extract the original algorithm.

That means that if bitcoin moves away from SHA-256, its shiny new Antminer will become a brick. But, of course, such changes will not happen overnight, so ASIC manufacturers will no doubt receive an advance notice and will be able to create new machines.

Anyway, the old hardware would be useless once the change occurred, which could lead millions of dollars in computer hardware to simply sit and rot, or hopefully be recycled in some way.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are only those of the author, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The answers below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The responses have not been reviewed, approved or supported by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to ensure that all publications and / or questions are answered.

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