Because of the new, faster way of performing computation, quantum computers can be extremely beneficial to scientific developments. However, once available, they have the potential to break current cryptography and undermine the protection of personal data. Obtaining quantum supremacy is one of the monumental breakthroughs that will change the course of history. But how will this affect blockchain? Will crypto vanish in the war of quantum computing vs. blockchain?
Due to owners using un-hashed public keys or reusing BTC addresses, four million Bitcoin (BTC), or 25% of all BTC, are vulnerable to a quantum computer attack. Let’s have an in-depth look at the war of quantum computing vs. blockchain.
What is Quantum Computing?
You may know “what is blockchain technology?”, but maybe you can not say the same for quantum computing. So before we continue discussing who wins in the blockchain vs. quantum computing debate, let’s first know what quantum computing is.
Quantum computing is a method of solving problems that are too large or complex for traditional computers by employing the laws of quantum mechanics. This branch of computer science employs quantum theory principles. Quantum theory explains how energy and matter behave at the atomic and subatomic levels. Qubits, or quantum bits, are the fundamental unit of information in quantum computing. In traditional computing, this is analogous to a binary bit.
Whereas traditional computers use bits with either 0s or 1s to store information, quantum computers use qubits. Qubits carry information in a multidimensional quantum state.
Quantum Computing vs. Blockchain: Quantum Computers and Cryptography
Quantum computers and cryptography have a bittersweet bond. Public-key cryptography, also known as asymmetric encryption, is a method of encrypting data using algorithm-based cryptographic protocols. It necessitates the use of two distinct keys, one private and one public. Asymmetric cryptography’s security is based on a mathematical principle known as a ‘one-way function.’ According to this principle, the public key can be easily derived from the private key but not the other way around.
Peter Shor, a mathematician, published a quantum algorithm in 1994 that can break the security assumption of the most common asymmetric cryptography algorithms. This was a significant point in the war of quantum vs. blockchain. Public-key cryptography systems would be jeopardized if adversaries possessed a sufficiently powerful quantum computer capable of performing decryption without prior knowledge of the private key.
Is Quantum Computing a Threat to Cryptography?
Many of today’s classical cryptography can be broken by quantum computing, putting IT security at risk. The threat extends to basic internet security protocols. Almost all current systems requiring security, privacy, or trust would be impacted. It is widely assumed, for example, that highly sophisticated quantum computers will one day be able to crack current encryption, making security a major concern for blockchain users. But do crypto owners actually have little time to safeguard their interests in this potential war of blockchain vs. quantum computing?
The emerging security threat stems from differences in computing approaches between what we use today and the promise of quantum mechanics, a branch of physics that studies how the physical world works at a fundamental level. Quantum computers can exist in both 0 and 1 states simultaneously. They can perform calculations based on the probability of an object’s state before measuring it, which means they can process exponentially more data than traditional computers. Let’s take an example. The 54-qubit Sycamore processor developed by Google completed a computation in 200 seconds. It would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years to complete the same computation.
This ability to dramatically accelerate certain types of computations poses a challenge to much of modern cryptography. Fortunately, the threat is only theoretical at this point. Today’s quantum computers are incapable of breaking any commonly used encryption methods. Significant technical advances are required before they will be able to break the strong codes in widespread use around the internet.
Resolving the Quantum Computing Issue With Cryptocurrency
The post-quantum cryptography technologies can be used to solve the quantum computing problem. Post-quantum cryptography, also known as quantum-safe cryptography, is cryptography whose security is thought to be unaffected by quantum computers. This is accomplished by employing very different mathematical building blocks that include operations that quantum computers cannot solve more efficiently than other computers. Currently, post-quantum cryptography research focuses on six major approaches:
- Lattice-based cryptography
- Multivariate cryptography
- Hash-based cryptography
- Code-based cryptography
- Supersingular elliptic curve isogeny cryptography
- Symmetric key quantum resistance
Let’s have a look at some significant blockchain projects working on quantum-safe cryptography:
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States is developing a post-quantum cryptography standard, with the goal of publishing a draft with the first algorithm in 2024.
- CRYSTALS-Kyber, CRYSTALS-Dilithium, and Falcon, three quantum-safe cryptographic algorithms based on lattice cryptography, have been developed by IBM researchers.
- Cambridge Quantum Computing and Honeywell have teamed up to develop quantum security technology that can be deployed on any blockchain network. Its goal is to secure the connections between the machines that store blockchain data and the signatures required to encrypt and sign the data.
- Despite their names, Quantum Resistant Ledger and Bitcoin Post Quantum are unrelated to the original Bitcoin money. These attempts use post-quantum algorithms to defend against future quantum breaking.
- The Open Quantum Safe (OQS) project, which began in late 2016, aims to develop and prototype quantum-resistant cryptography. It aims to combine current post-quantum schemes into a single library, liboqs. liboqs is a free and open-source C library that implements quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms.
What is the Quantum Resistant Ledger?
The Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) is a fully functional quantum-resistant blockchain network. The eXtended Merkle Tree Signature Scheme protects it (XMSS). XMSS is a NIST-approved hash-based secure digital signature scheme that protects the platform from quantum attacks. The key features of the QRL are:
- QRL provides its users with a strong integration accompanied by a pioneer in hardware digital asset storage solutions. It also has an open development infrastructure as well as audited and open-source cryptographic algorithms.
- QRL digital assets are safe from current and emerging cryptographic threats. Its solution suite offers a variety of options for the safe custody of QRL digital assets as well as interaction with the public and private post-quantum secure blockchains built on its core protocol.
- The combination of on-chain lattice key storage and the platform’s transient messaging layer for internode communication aims to provide a post-quantum secure message layer for safe digital communications.
- Extensive documentation, tools, and a rich API enable the tools to build anything on an industrial-grade platform today that will survive tomorrow. QRL is a developer-friendly platform due to features such as Quantum Resistant Token (QRT) support, on-chain message support, and so on.
- The NSIT approval assists QRL in understanding the impact of post-quantum cryptography on the performance and behavior of their network. The platform provides an entire range of products designed keeping the end-user in mind. The former meets a wide range of user requirements, from hardware wallet integration to mobile applications.
Blockchain Vs. Quantum Computing – What is the Future?
Quantum computing still has a very long way to go before it can be considered a real threat to blockchain technology. The field of quantum computing has reached a tipping point. Venture capitalists are pouring money into the technology, and public initiatives are picking up steam as they investigate its potential role in our society.
Quantum computing has the potential to help solve many of our time’s most pressing scientific and technological problems, advancing technology in ways we cannot yet imagine. As it advances, quantum computing will push existing technologies into uncharted territory, perhaps none more so than blockchain.
Furthermore, by the time quantum computers become widely available, blockchain technology will most likely have evolved to address the issue of quantum security. There are already cryptocurrencies, such as IOTA, that use quantum-resistant directed acyclic graph (DAG) technology. Blockchain networks, such as the QAN Platform, make use of the technology to allow developers to create quantum-resistant smart contracts, decentralized applications, and digital assets.
Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain – Who Wins?
If cryptography advances to create increasingly quantum-resistant encryption methods, or if quantum encryption is integrated into blockchains, the marriage of these promising technologies could aid in the creation of a more secure, democratized internet. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) uses quantum mechanics laws to allow two parties to exchange secure data for detecting whether a third party is attempting to eavesdrop on their exchange. Using quantum keys in conjunction with a blockchain network could help protect against attacks from both classical and quantum computers.
Future research into post-quantum cryptography will eventually bring about the necessary change to enable the development of robust blockchain applications.
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