UofSussex researchers estimate advances in quantum computing could break Bitcoin in decade
(TechRadar) Advances over the next decade could pave the way for quantum computers powerful enough to crack Bitcoin encryption, new research from University of Sussex suggests.
Scientists from the University of Sussex in the UK estimate that quantum systems with 13 million qubits would be sufficient to break the cryptographic algorithm (SHA-256) that secures the Bitcoin blockchain within the space of 24 hours.
Although modern quantum computers come nowhere close to this level of performance (the current record is a comparatively measly 127 qubits), the researchers say significant developments over the next ten years or so could yield quantum machines with sufficient horsepower.
For the time being, cryptocurrency enthusiasts can rest easy in the knowledge that cracking the SHA-256 algorithm is impossible with current hardware, but that won’t always be the case.
However, there is extensive research ongoing into all aspects of quantum computing, from almost all the world’s largest technology companies. A lot of work is going into increasing the number of qubits on a quantum processor, but researchers are also investigating opportunities related to qubit design, the pairing of quantum and classical computing, new refrigeration techniques and more.
In all likelihood, Bitcoin will fork onto a new quantum-safe encryption method long before a sufficiently powerful quantum computer is developed, but the research raises an important point about the longevity of encryption techniques nonetheless.