Quantum Computing vs. Crypto

By Aleksandra Wilson
4 min read December 2, 2021

When we mention quantum computing you may feel your head start spinning thinking this is rocket science, but it’s not. In reality, this is easier to understand than you think, we’ll explain it in simple terms. 

The concept refers to computers that use properties of quantum physics for storing data and performing math calculations. These characteristics are particularly advantageous when performing tasks that are faster than any supercomputers. 

A typical computer (which includes laptops and smartphones) encodes data in bits that are either 0 or 1. When talking about the memory of a quantum computer, the most basic unit is a qubit or a quantum bit. 

A quantum bit is created utilizing physical systems like the orientation of a photon or the spin of an electron. The systems can be in different arrangements simultaneously. That is quantum superposition. In simple terms, the series of quantum bits can represent various things at the same time.

Quantum physics and computing may sound like science fiction; particles and waves make everything. Mind-blowing, right? It’s not science fiction anymore, but could this be a threat to the crypto space?

The Problem 

As researchers and scientists worldwide are starting to understand the real power of quantum physics, they realize the threat it could potentially represent for the financial system as we know it. Not only could the cryptosystem be at stake, but this is also beyond blockchains.

Powerful computers are designed with the capability to crack the encryption of the world’s algorithms. That could potentially be a menace to the security of top-secret intelligence agencies and the global financial system. Your phone could also be at risk; remember that whoever owns more data has the power of leverage.

The technology relying on blockchain that is the core of cryptocurrencies could be exposed to more sophisticated attacks. Not only that but if quantum computing develops faster than researchers could secure digital money, there’s a big potential for forging transactions.

The Predictions for Quantum Computing

The system protecting your purchases online is ubiquitous. This tech works in a simple way; it combines the use of a key that’s only yours and a public one. If technology keeps progressing this way, quantum computers will be able to crack the cryptography of the public key. Therefore, hackers could impersonate the real owners of NFTs, crypto, or digital assets.

In more simple words, when quantum computing gets powerful enough, basically all the security guarantees will disappear. What happens is that users can lose their funds when the cryptography of the public key is hacked.

Other Problems with Crypto

The wallets that people use to store their digital assets are also vulnerable. These wallets keep keys that users need to validate access to their assets. An empty wallet could be the result of a successful attack.

Good News

Although it all sounds like a catastrophe, and it can be, the truth is that the solution relies on the problem itself. The good news is that by adopting the same technology of quantum computing, the problem can be solved. The crypto industry is already developing a solution for this potential problem. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US is trying to get ahead of this issue. Several researchers around the world participated in the project for years now. The team is working on developing quantum-resistant software. Some other groups involved in the project are:

  • The Ethereum project
  • Cambridge Quantum Computing
  • The Hyperledger Foundation

What the Future Holds

The organic development of crypto suggests that users will upgrade their digital assets to quantum computing tech. There will be new tools that will help overcome these challenges. Furthermore, the current cryptography protecting significant assets like Bitcoin is also strong enough to resist quantum computers. This translates to not all cryptography being vulnerable. 

If quantum tech can break cryptography, it can help build encryption even stronger. But rest assured, just like there will be people trying to take advantage of it, there will be a team of experts on the other side making sure the crypto space stays as safe as possible.

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