Is Quantum Computing Cryptocurrency’s Kryptonite? Researcher Says It Could Break Bitcoin’s Cryptographic Hashes


Technology has come a long way. While many laughed off Charles Babbage and his astounding Difference Engine, in less than a century it became a world-changing invention. From there the era of vacuum tubes gave way to transistors. Just when one thought a plateau had been reached, Quantum computers broke the mold. And now some experts feel it might break the nascent blockchain industry.

For the uninitiated, Quantum computing is the use of various quantum-mechanical phenomena for computing. The basic process differs from a normal computer. While normal computers are based on transistors and work with binary switches in a digitized milieu, quantum computers work using Quantum bits or ‘qubits' that exist in superposition, a state of simultaneous one and zero. And now this power might be harnessed for breaking Bitcoin’s cryptographic hashes.

What Is The Issue

In a recent interview, Wander Cunha, Digital business unit head of Indra Sistemas, discussed this concern. He pointed out that the hash codes were solid encryption solutions that were nearly unimpregnable by conventional computers; quantum computers might not find this so hard and may even succeed in the span of just a few years. This could be a game changer for the entire encryption system. He reasons, ”Quantum machines are very efficient in performing brute-force algorithms, such as factoring prime numbers and searching in unordered lists.”

What Is The Workaround

Wander feels that the focal issue at present is the size of keys. They need to be increased in order to gain more time to address this issue. The long-term solution has to lie in being able to come up with new encryption methods. These future developments are a must to have any hope of withstanding the quantum computing power, in fact, he opines that a deep dive into the risk management aspects of the industry is needed from a financial approach.

The IT expert also predicted that fate of quantum computers. Similar to computers, that was hardly thought as viable for mass development, until the 1980s. These machines should reach the market for the general public purchase as soon as the next decade, with a few expensive and lower processing power models already available.

This is not all doom and gloom as it might appear at first glance. The blockchain industry has a lot to gain from this. Quantum computings exponential potential can significantly improve the speed and development cycles of the industry. For example, the DWave computer which was recently purchased by the weapons manufactures, Lockheed Martin. The new system has been used to seek and rectify issues with hardware in a few short weeks that would have ordinarily taken many months. He ended the conversation with,

“We understand that the benefits of using the quantum computer will be fundamental in research and development especially when applied to solve a problem in a very short time, such as simulating and optimizing processes such as building safer aircraft.”

It is hard not to be excited by the possibilities offered here. Whether this is for the betterment of the industry or ends up destroying it, is a matter of pure conjecture at this stage.

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