(Decrypt.co) Quantum computers could one day be used to crack the encryption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. And that day could come sooner than anticipated.
Andersen Cheng, CEO of London-based cryptography company Post-Quantum which works with with the counter-terrorism departments of organizations such as NATO, GCHQ, and NCSC—“there’s been some evidence that it could well be around two years away.”
Cheng explained that no government is going to let on that they have a huge quantum computer “the size of a stadium” hidden away in an underground bunker, he said.
Cheng also dismissed concerns that a quantum computer would have to be purpose-built to crack Bitcoin’s code, and whether that could take even longer. Since Shor and Grover’s algorithms already exist, “people know exactly what to do, but they just haven’t got the power to do it.” Now, people are “just waiting for the power to arise.”
It’s up to the blockchain and cryptography community to build quantum-secure blockchains. One major milestone is a competition to create post-quantum cryptographic algorithms run by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the cryptography world’s standard setter. NIST’s winner would determine the algorithm for a blockchain that’s resilient to quantum computers.
Then, blockchains could fork to a post-quantum-secure algorithm. Or, blockchains could start from the ground up.