Chaum: Without quantum security, our blockchain future is uncertain
(CoinTelegraph) IQT-News summarizes David Chaum’s article detailing David Chaum is one of the earliest blockchain researchers and a world-renowned cryptographer and privacy advocate. Known as “The Godfather of Privacy,” his 1982 dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley became the first known proposal of a blockchain protocol.
Chaum writes, “Most terrifying for a society so reliant on the internet, quantum-level computing puts all of our digital infrastructures at risk. Our contemporary internet is built on cryptography — the use of codes and keys to secure private communication and storage of data. But for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), for whom this concept is fundamental, one sufficiently powerful quantum computer could mean the theft of billions of dollars of value or the destruction of an entire blockchain altogether. With digital signatures suddenly easily forgeable, the very concept of wallet “ownership” will seem quaint.”
When I first pioneered digital currency in the late 1980s, quantum computers were merely a theoretical proposition. While we were all aware of its inevitable arrival (those who work in tech are often keenly aware of the future barrelling towards us at breakneck speed), in a world where we hadn’t even seen the first web browser, we didn’t spend much time contemplating what seemed even then like deep-future technology.
Times have changed, however. Over the next three decades, cryptocurrency would be refined and come to store nearly $3 trillion of value. One analysis by Deloitte found that over 25% of all Bitcoin could be stolen in a single attack, which at the time of writing amounts to nearly $300 billion. That would make it three-thousand times more lucrative than the next best heist.
The puzzle we face moving forward is how to make ourselves safe from their devastating potential. My team and I at the xx network have spent the last few years pioneering our quantum-secure blockchain as one way to solve that problem. Adding another layer of privacy protection with our flagship metadata-shredding DApp, xx messenger, will be another way to guard against quantum-armed malicious actors. There will be other solutions by different innovators, they just aren’t coming fast enough.
There are also very few cryptographic techniques that would be completely redundant in a post-quantum world. The key agreement protocol and digital signatures are the most glaringly vulnerable, and innovations such as lattice-based cryptography provide us with ready-made solutions to implement in the next generation of blockchain technology, and there are even stronger techniques known as well.
There are reasons to think that the coming quantum-computing revolution won’t torpedo our chances of a new, decentralized world built on the blockchain. For one, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States is already considering 69 potential new methods for “post-quantum cryptography.”
We are winning the battle. It would be a profound shame to lose the war because we did not take this collective threat to our security and privacy seriously.
If we do, we can secure the fundamental promise of blockchain technology and reinvigorate its appeal. Now that sounds like something to be excited about.