(Decrypt) Quantum computers could theoretically be used to attack Bitcoin, although the crypto industry is preparing defenses.
When Google achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing last November, blockchain experts claimed that it will take at least ten years before this becomes a problem for the industry. Others predict that quantum computers could be powerful enough to threaten Bitcoin as soon as 2022.
In the wake of Honeywell’s latest announcement, that timeline might need to be reviewed. Honeywell says that its newly-launched quantum computer is the most powerful in the world. The machine has achieved a quantum volume score of 64—twice as powerful as rivals from IBM and Google.
According to a June 2017 paper, a quantum computer would need to have around 2,500 qubits of processing power in order to break the 256-bit encryption used by Bitcoin. If that were to happen, it would theoretically be possible for the owner of the quantum computer to take control of the Bitcoin blockchain; in that event, it’s likely that the price of Bitcoin would plummet.
First teased in March this year, Honeywell’s new quantum computer is “twice as powerful as the next alternative in the industry,” the company claims. “That means we are closer to industries leveraging our solutions to solve computational problems that are impractical to solve with traditional computers,” it said in a statement.