August 24, 2015

Quantum Computing Advances: Is the Crypto-Apocalypse Coming?

News, Scenario 2

Writing in Network World, Patrick Nelson reports on recent advances in quantum computing that could represent a step toward the so-called “cybersecurity Armageddon,” in which encryption is rendered useless in the face of staggeringly fast computers.

“The number crunching behind cryptographic keys could one day become as painless to untangle as some arithmetic is on a calculator today,” he writes. “No one really knows how long it will take before a quantum computer is built, but many think it is just a matter of time. And, consequently, old ideas that it would take to the end of time to defeat much cryptography is now looking highly unlikely.”

Nelson cites a report from Science Daily, which details how physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have developed a “new quantum computation scheme” that works by “altering the order of quantum gates, which are the “basic building blocks” of a quantum computer.

Nelson also points out that, in a decision unrelated to these recent research findings, the National Security Agency (NSA) has announced it expects to transition to “quantum resistant algorithms in the not-too-distant future” and is “determined to start planning and communicating early about the upcoming transition to quantum resistant algorithms. Our ultimate goal is to provide cost effective security against a potential quantum computer.”

Photo Credit: D-Wave Systems