Bitcoin: can the quantum computer destroy blockchain technology and cryptos?

News JVTech Bitcoin: can the quantum computer destroy blockchain technology and cryptos?

Since the invention of Bitcoin, many have wondered about the impact of quantum computing on cryptos in the coming years, and for good reason; this would represent a real threat to virtual currencies and cryptographic encryption as a whole.

Summary

  • The quantum computer is advancing
  • The final boss of Bitcoin and Cryptos
  • Quantum supremacy, a distant scenario for Bitcoin
  • Quantum computers, an internet hazard

The quantum computer is advancing

Touted as a computing revolution for several years, the quantum computer continues to fuel theorists’ scenarios. If the first quantum computers did not date from yesterday (1990), the first quantum processor was created in 2008.

Unlike a classical binary computer based on bits of 0’s and 1’s, a quantum computer system works in qubits, allowing both of its two levels to be superimposed.

Concretely, these quantum computers already make it possible to solve very complex equations and calculations by using quantum algorithms. For example, they can be used in aviation to make the aerodynamics of a wing resistant to the behavior of the air.

As it evolves, the quantum computer embeds more and more qubits into its processor so that it can solve increasingly difficult calculations. In this logic, Google and IBM are planning computers with more than 1000 qubits for the next few years. This is precisely what puts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at risk.

The final boss of Bitcoin and Cryptos

The crypto sector especially fears this technological advance… In fact, Bitcoin is specially designed for classic computers according to the current encryption standards. So while crypto is a technical feat for one, it has some shortcomings when it comes to quantum system.

According to several studies, public key (asymmetric) cryptography may be threatened by the arrival of sufficiently powerful quantum computers. In this case, blockchain technology, the network behind Bitcoin for storing transaction information to secure it, is based on this type of encryption. Named SHA-256, this standard, which encrypts information through a 256-bit suite, can be quickly cracked by future quantum computers.

Specifically, a quantum algorithm would test billions of combinations to find the public key of a crypto wallet in record time. With a conventional computer, this kind of calculation takes tens of thousands of years – a technological advance called quantum supremacy

Quantum supremacy, a distant scenario for Bitcoin

Nevertheless, there are still some technical and technological barriers. Initially, the attacker must have very solid means, which implies having:

  • A quantum computer of several thousand Qubits (IBM currently has 433 qubits)
  • A refrigerator of less than 200 degrees to provide the necessary conditions for the calculator
  • Solid knowledge of the programming language Qsharp (quantum algorithms)

Let’s say the hacker has this hardware to “crack” Bitcoin. He probably wouldn’t have much interest in doing so. Bitcoin’s strength is based in part on the trust in its system, which has remained tamper-proof and transparent to this day. Thus, by attacking the first cryptocurrency, he would be able to obtain Bitcoins, but at what cost? These stolen Bitcoins would quickly be worth around €0 as the majority would sell their BTCs due to a lack of trust in the first cryptocurrency.

But aside from the economic aspect, to eradicate Bitcoin definitively, this seems to be the right way… Moreover, Bitcoin and other cryptos are not the only ones threatened by these colossal computing powers.

Quantum computers, an internet hazard

In fact, asymmetric cryptography governs most of our information exchanges on the web. This encryption standard is widely used on the web in several everyday applications. (online banking, messages, information from different accounts, etc.)

The solution is not to increase the number of bits, since the combination will be almost as fast to discover using a quantum computer. For example, the cryptography industry works with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) to develop new encryption standards.

Since 2016, the organization has been working to test several standards resistant to quantum computers. Continuing by elimination, NIST has already selected four initial encryption algorithms:

  • KRYSTALER-Kyber
  • CRYSTALS-Dilithium
  • FALCON
  • SPHINCS+

One of these processes will surely replace the current standards within the next few years to avoid a quantum catastrophe on the Internet and on Bitcoin.

Nevertheless, there are still a few years of serenity for cryptos, as the race for quantum devices has only just begun, and the capabilities of the first ones are still far from the required performance.

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