(NakedSecurity) Many people are worried that quantum computers, if they really work as claimed and can be scaled up to have a lot more processing power and qubit memory than they do today, could successfully take on problems currently regarded as “computationally unfeasible” to solve. The most obvious example is cracking encryption. If reliable quantum computers with a reasonable amount of memory ever become a reality – then anything encrypted with today’s strongest algorithms might suddenly become easy to crack.
US standards body NIST is currently running a competition to design, analyze and choose a set of new algorithms for public key cryptography that are considered uncrackable even if a quantum supercomputer does get built. The project is very much like previous crypto competitions that NIST has run, with a similar motivation. NIST is trying to cover a lot of bases with its new standards, as NIST mathematician Dustin Moody explained: ““We want to look at how these algorithms work not only in big computers and smartphones, but also in devices that have limited processor power. Smart cards, tiny devices for use in the Internet of Things, and individual microchips all need protection too.”