A prematurely leaked Google research article claims quantum supremacy, including the results of a test in which its 54-qubits processor performed a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken 10,000 years, thus starting this century’s version of the space race.
With the launch of Amazon’s own quantum computing service Braket, which allows developers to run simulations on a “cloud” of D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti quantum computers, 2020 could even be a bigger year for the impending perspective of this technology.
The growing demands of business computing and cloud computing almost require the need for quantum computing to evolve into a new market, even if initial use cases are limited and apply almost exclusively to governments, research institutions and the cloud.
Both these large companies and the whole world are responsible for the creation of new quantum safety networks that can take advantage of the quantum entanglement to generate demonstrable random numbers and next-generation hash algorithms that will provide a secure cryptography for this new computing era.
Quantum Computing and Cryptocurrencies
It is estimated that the first implementation of quantum computers could appear in just 10 years. Whether quantum computing is integrated within 10, 50 or 200 years, Pandora’s Box has already been opened. Big names such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM will use important resources in order to win the battle to colonize the next frontier of computer science.
The implementation of quantum computing can affect practically all aspects of people’s lives related to digitalization, but the biggest implications may be for the cryptocurrency industry. Currently, the pseudo-random generation of keys by cryptocurrencies continues making them susceptible to be exploited by hackers, and quantum computing will only increase the likelihood of predicting the values generated by the software.
Satoshi Nakamoto could not explain a world in which quantum computing could realistically be applied to compromise the Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm before cryptocurrency mining ends. The main imperfection of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is that they were built during the end of an era for a certain type of cryptography, where obsolescence is not an option.
Considering that the last Bitcoin will be extracted in the year 2140, there is enough time for quantum computing to reach the popularity and scale required to compromise and crash Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with a 51-percent attack. With quantum computing running in seconds, which would take the fastest supercomputers millennia to process, easily taking possession of 50% of Bitcoin’s mining hashrate would be one of the many tools available to a potential attacker.
In addition, with the well-known Satoshi addresses, it would not take long for a quantum attacker to compromise their private keys and take even Satoshi’s own coins.
Preserving Indecipherable Code of Cryptocurrencies
The whole industry has to recognize the problem, especially as large-scale companies continue advancing along the path of quantum technology development without predicting all the possible consequences of that exploration.
The industry needs to construct quantum security with the same energy, or even more than with the development of quantum technology. This would include quantum safety networks focused on photon sources for the generation of genuine random numbers and next-generation hash algorithms.
By Willmen Blanco