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Why quantum computing isn’t a threat to crypto… yet

Why quantum computing isn’t a threat to crypto… yet


Quantum computing has raised concerns about the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in recent years. For example, it is commonly assumed that very sophisticated quantum computers will one day be able to crack present-day encryption, making security a serious concern for users in the blockchain space.

The SHA-256 cryptographic protocol used for Bitcoin network security is currently unbreakable by today’s computers. However, experts anticipate that within a decade, quantum computing will be able to break existing encryption protocols.

In regard to whether holders should be worried about quantum computers being a threat to cryptocurrency, Johann Polecsak, chief technology officer of QAN Platform, a layer-1 blockchain platform, told Cointelegraph:

“Definitely. Elliptic curve signatures — which are powering all major blockchains today and which are proven to be vulnerable against QC attacks — will break, which is the ONLY authentication mechanism in the system. Once it breaks, it will be literally impossible to differentiate a legitimate wallet owner and a hacker who forged a signature of one.”

If the current cryptographic hash algorithms ever get cracked, that leaves hundreds of billions worth of digital assets vulnerable to theft from malicious actors. However, despite these concerns, quantum computing still has a long way to go before becoming a viable threat to blockchain technology. 

What is quantum computing?

Contemporary computers process information and carry out computations using “bits.” Unfortunately, these bits cannot exist simultaneously in two locations and two distinct states.

Instead, traditional computer bits may either have the value 0 or 1. A good analogy is of a light switch being turned on or off. Therefore, if there are a pair of bits, for example, those bits can only hold one of the four potential combinations at any moment: 0-0, 0-1, 1-0 or 1-1.

From a more pragmatic point of view, the implication of this is that it is likely to take an average computer quite some time to complete complicated computations, namely those that need to take into account each and every potential configuration.

Quantum computers do not operate under the same constraints as traditional computers. Instead, they employ something that is termed quantum bits or “qubits” rather than traditional bits. These qubits can coexist in the states of 0 and 1 at the same time.

As mentioned earlier, two bits may only simultaneously hold one of…

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