Quantum computers could crack Bitcoin by 2022 – Decrypt

If you had a powerful enough computer, you could, in theory, take control of the bitcoin blockchain. you can credit your account with bitcoin for free or prevent others from making transactions. Since each wallet’s private key can be derived from a public key, you can access anyone’s bitcoin wallet. the keys to the $163 billion castle would be his; Of course, in that scenario, the price of bitcoin would surely plummet as soon as its claims of invulnerability were found to be unsubstantiated.

While even the most powerful supercomputer would take thousands of years to crack bitcoin, there are machines that could theoretically do it in a matter of seconds. these ultrafast devices are called quantum computers.

Reading: Why computers end up cracking bitcoin

And they’re real, currently in development by some of the brightest minds on the planet.

some experts told decrypt it’s already too late for bitcoin; quantum computers, secretly developed by governments, could corrupt the blockchain in just a few years.

But others, including some quantum computer developers, say anxiety is far-fetched and distant; by the time quantum computers are reliable and powerful enough to attack bitcoin, blockchain developers will have already patched this vulnerability.

Do you want to know more? This comprehensive guide contains everything you need to know about quantum computers and bitcoin.

what are quantum computers?

quantum physics involves the investigation of structures smaller than atoms. looking at subatomic structures, the laws of physics break down and crazy things begin to happen. quantum computers exploit those properties to perform calculations much faster than even the most powerful supercomputer.

traditional computers, like the one you are reading this article on, work in terms of 1 and 0. if something is “true”, then the transistor will register a 1. and if it is “false”, the transistor will read 0. there are billions of transistors in every computer; an estimated 13 trillion have been created since the first was created in 1947, making it the most manufactured device, period.

but due to something called “quantum superposition”, the transistors in quantum computers can register 1 and 0 simultaneously, which means that a quantum transistor is exponentially more powerful than a normal computer.

how could quantum computers crack bitcoin’s code?

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bitcoin uses something called the elliptic curve digital signature algorithm (ecdsa) to sign digital signatures, and uses a cryptography standard called sha-256 to encrypt blocks on the chain.

With bitcoin, a private key, chosen at random, is run through these algorithms to generate a public key. and the bitcoin protocol uses the hash value of it to create a public bitcoin address.

A quantum computer could reverse this process and derive the private key from a public one. and voila! Gone is the claim of inviolability and sanctity of bitcoin, and you have access to any bitcoin wallet you want.

Two main quantum algorithms have already been developed that threaten the current state of cryptography: Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms.

“An adversary could insert their own blocks and undermine the entire blockchain.”

rob campbell, president of medical cybersecurity based in baltimore, maryland, told crack that quantum computers using both grover’s and shor’s algorithms could also “mine much faster than others and thus an adversary could insert their own blocks and undermine the entire blockchain.”

when will quantum computers pose a threat to bitcoin?

It is estimated that you would need a quantum computer with at least 4000 qubits (the unit that denotes the power of a quantum computer) to crack the bitcoin code. The thing is, today’s most powerful quantum computers are… decidedly less powerful. In October 2019, Google announced a quantum computer with 54 qubits; it is the most powerful quantum computer announced in the public domain.

But Campbell said major companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are making “rapid progress,” as are many smaller companies.

so how long will it be until the threat of quantum computing becomes a problem for bitcoin? It depends who you ask. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, was one of the first major figures to put a deadline on it. he said, “within five to 10 years, quantum computing will break encryption as we know it today.”

Some blockchain leaders aren’t worried about this timeline. At Web Summit 2019, Hedera Hashgraph Founder Dr. Leemon Baird compared the threat of quantum computing to the Y2K problem, a date format problem that doomsayers thought would break the world’s major computer systems on January 1, 2000. Said Baird: “Like Y2K; yes, we had to make some software changes in the year 2000. was it the end of the world? not really.”

vitalik buterin, co-founder of ethereum, is also undeterred. he told forkast news in October 2019 that, “for every cryptographic algorithm that quantum computers can crack, we know we have a replacement […] that quantum computers can’t crack.” while these can be less efficient, “we have an upgrade path and we know what the upgrade path is,” he said.

See also: The 10 Public Companies With the Biggest Bitcoin Portfolios – Decrypt

but the threat could be much more imminent, andersen cheng, chief executive of the london-based post-quantum crypto firm, told decrypt. In the intelligence world, which Cheng knows well (his company has worked with the counterterrorism departments of organizations such as NATO, GCHQ and NCSC), “there has been some evidence that he could well be in two years.”

cheng said that pichai’s prediction of five to ten years is based on commercially available quantum computers; no government will let on that they have a huge “stadium-sized” quantum computer hidden away in an underground bunker, she said.

for pichai to sell google’s quantum computer to other companies, it would have to be stable and practical. But for a government computer, none of this matters “as long as it can start cracking the encryption,” Cheng said.

cheng also dismissed concerns that a quantum computer would have to be designed specifically to crack bitcoin’s code, and whether that could take even longer. Since the shor and grover algorithms already exist, “people know exactly what to do, but they just don’t have the power to do it.” now, people “just wait for the power to come.”

Are Quantum Security Blockchains Possible?

Right now, it’s up to the blockchain and crypto community to build quantum-safe blockchains.

An important milestone is a competition to create post-quantum cryptographic algorithms run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the crypto world’s standard-setter. the winner of nist would determine the algorithm for a blockchain resistant to quantum computers.

then blockchain could become a post-quantum secure algorithm. Or, blockchains could start from scratch. For example, David Chaum, creator of digital money, began work on Praxxis, a “quantum resistant” blockchain that claims to use quantum resistant digital signatures to sign transactions for the platform’s native currency, the xx currency. .

but it’s too early to make decisions until nist issues its ruling, which cheng predicts will be until 2022.

Until then, bitcoin holders will live in a state of quantum uncertainty.

See also: Can You Buy A Home With Cryptocurrency? | Bankrate

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