(BeeBom) The fact that quantum computers can break all traditional digital encryption, could have significant consequences on electronic privacy and security of citizens, governments and businesses. A quantum computer could efficiently crack a 3,072-bit RSA key, a 128-bit AES key, or a 256-bit elliptic curve key, as it can easily find their factors by essentially reducing them to only 26-bits.
While a 128-bit key is virtually impossible to crack within a feasible timeframe even by the the most powerful supercomputers, a 26-bit key could be easily cracked using a regular home PC. What that means is that all encryption used by banks, hospitals and government agencies will be reduced to nought if malicious actors, including rogue nation states, can built quantum computers that are large enough and stable enough to support their nefarious plans.
It’s not all doom and gloom for global digital security. Existing quantum computers lack the processing power to break any real cryptographic algorithm, so your banking details are still safe from brute force attacks for now. What’s more, the same ability that can potentially decimate all modern public key cryptography is also being harnessed by scientists to create new, hack-proof ‘post-quantum cryptography’ that could potentially change the landscape of data security in the coming years.
The difference between quantum computers and traditional computers is so massive that the former may not replace the latter any time soon. However, with proper error correction and better energy efficiency, we could hopefully see more ubiquitous use of quantum computers going forward. And when that happens, it will be interesting to see whether it will spell the end of digital security as we know it or usher in a new dawn in digital cryptography.