At Inside Quantum Technology’s Boston Summit, perhaps the liveliest panel was on the topic of the quantum threat to Blockchain.
Monica Quaintance, a New York based data engineer for Kadena, which sells secure blockchain solutions for business data, and Kiran Bhagotra, a cybersecurity entrepreneur who founded ProtectBox found themselves squarely at odds over what degree of risk emerging quantum technology imposes on blockchain applications, including cryptocurrencies.
Quaintance, a former investment banker and data engineer for both the SEC and high fashion platform Rent the Runway, allowed that while blockchain encryption is sophisticated and asymmetric, it will be vulnerable to quantum hacking — just not anytime soon. She vigorously defended cryptocurrencies, which she said are getting an unfairly bad rap in the media, — putting a string of negative headlines up on the screen for dramatic effect. Quaintance noted that quantum resistant digital signatures are on the way to market to help combat the problem identified by her co-panelist.
Bhagotra, by sharp contrast, detailed serious cybersecurity risks that quantum technology poses for traditional cryptography, including blockchain, and conveyed a much greater sense of urgency. She insisted that the 10 minutes it takes to construct a blockchain is “a huge vulnerability window,” a claim that Quaintance disagreed with, at least for today, accusing Bhagotra of trashing cryptocurrencies.
In conclusion, Bhagotra countered Quaintance by saying that only a small minority within the blockchain industry seems to be addressing future exposure and risk from quantum tech with enough lead time and collaboration to tackle the problem. She highlighted the work of the QRL Foundation in Zug, Switzerland, which is developing future proof blockchain solutions, enabling multi-capacity wallets and smart contracting.
Meanwhile, major smartphone vendors like Samsung are introducing blockchain smartphones.