Inside Quantum Technology

Lawmakers Briefed on Quantum Computing’s Threat to Encryption and the Urgent Need for Mathematical Research.

(CSO.Online) Dr. Jill Pipher, President of the American Mathematical Society, VP for Research, and Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Mathematics at Brown University led a briefing last week for lawmakers on Capitol Hill called “No Longer Secure: Cryptography in the Quantum Era” about the threats that quantum computing poses to existing cryptographic systems that support national and economic security. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) began the briefing by saying “we’re acutely aware of the potential advantages and disadvantages that quantum presents. And we’re also very concerned that some of our adversaries and competitors are investing a great deal in quantum computing.”
Regardless of whether quantum computing is achieved in ten or twenty years, we “must begin now to prepare all our information security systems to be able to resist quantum computing,” Pipher warned. “We need a lot more research in this area. We simply need a lot more mathematical research in quantum cryptography to do things. First, to realize the power of quantum computing and [secondly] to protect against the perils of quantum computing.”
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) called quantum computing a “fascinating and scary topic” because all of the assumptions “that so much of the internet is based on today don’t seem to apply.” Right now, Langevin said, “trying to brute force cryptographic locks is nearly impossible. It would take billions of years using the fastest computer to do that today.” But, within decades it’s possible for the far more powerful quantum computers to guess current encryption keys within a fraction of a second. “Deploying new algorithms is a policy challenge in and of itself. Certainly, Congress needs to look at it sooner rather than later.”

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