(TheBulletin.org) Some influential American policy makers, scholars, and analysts are extremely concerned about the effects quantum computing will have on national security. Similar to the way space technology was viewed in the context of the US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War, scientific advancement in quantum computing is seen as a race with significant national security consequences, particularly in the emerging US-China rivalry.
This article is by Jake Tibbetts, an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley studying Computer Science and Global Studies. He is also a research assistant at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a member of the Nuclear Policy Working Group at Berkeley. He writes that the warnings about quantum computing’s effect on national security are considerably overstated. Instead of worrying about winning the quantum supremacy race against China, policy makers and scholars should shift their focus to a more urgent national security problem: How to maintain the long-term security of secret information secured by existing cryptographic protections, which will fail against an attack by a future quantum computer.
As long as the United States continues to use encryption algorithms that are not quantum-resistant, sensitive information will be exposed to this long-term risk.
It is true that quantum computing threatens the viability of current encryption systems, but that does not mean quantum computing will make the concept of encryption obsolete. There are solutions to this impending problem. In fact, there is an entire movement in the field to investigate post-quantum cryptography. The aims of this movement are to find efficient encryption schemes to replace current methods with new, quantum-secure encryption.