Zug-based blockchain firm Cardano Foundation, the organization behind the popular Cardano blockchain project, and think-tank Z/Yen have published a report examining how quantum computing could threaten the security of public key cryptography.
The two organizations are engaged in a research programme called Distributed Futures, and the report, entitled “The Quantum Countdown: Quantum Computing and the Future of Distributed Ledger Encryption”, is part of the ongoing program. The firms will deeply study blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and artificial intelligence.
Maury Shenk, a technology legal expert, authored the report and finds that if – and when – large-scale quantum computers become available, they would break the security of widely-used public key cryptography, which allows remote parties to communicate securely and authenticate transactions without sharing a secret key in advance.
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Shenk’s report explains the essentials of cryptography, quantum computing, and how quantum computing threatens public key cryptography. It then considers the available solutions to the problem and provides frameworks for deciding when and how to respond to it.
What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computers are next generation computing machines, which take advantage of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at any time. Due to this unique trait, the computing processes in these computers are much faster, but they use significantly less energy compared to present-day computing devices.
Wired quoted Alexey Fedorov, a physicist at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology: “The difference between classical bits and qubits is that we can also prepare qubits in a quantum superposition of 0 and 1 and create nontrivial correlated states of a number of qubits, so-called ‘entangled states’.”
Cardano Foundation’s chairman Michael Parsons said: “As part of our extensive blockchain research programme with Z/Yen, we are exploring a range of issues from the technological, to regulation and governance and industry applications. The topics explored are forward-looking by their very nature, and the possible impact of quantum computing on the blockchain is a case in point.”