Google CEO response: Quantum computing is approaching, mainstream public chains are vulnerable

Quantum computers may one day crack the encryption technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. And, this day may come sooner than expected.   

  Author/Robert Stevens

  • In theory, a quantum computer with 4,000 qubits can crack Bitcoin’s encryption technology in a matter of seconds.
  • The current quantum computer has a maximum qubit of 54 bits.
  • The birth of a quantum computer capable of cracking bitcoin encryption may only take two years.

If you have a sufficiently powerful computer, then theoretically, you can control the Bitcoin blockchain. You can deposit free bitcoins into your account or prevent others from trading. Since the private key of each wallet can be derived from the public key, you can access anyone’s Bitcoin wallet you want. Therefore, a $163 billion “castle” private key may belong to you. Of course, under such circumstances, once the claim is found to be unfounded, the price of Bitcoin will definitely plummet.

Although it takes thousands of years for the most powerful supercomputer to crack Bitcoin, in theory, some machines can complete the crack in a few seconds. These ultra-high-speed devices are called quantum computers.

They are real. Currently, they are being developed by some of the best minds on earth. Some experts say it is too late for Bitcoin. A quantum computer secretly developed by the government may destroy the blockchain in just a few years.

However, others, including quantum computer developers, claim that this anxiety is out of reach. As time quantum computers become more trusted and powerful enough to attack Bitcoin, blockchain developers have already patched this weakness.

Want to know more? This complete guide includes everything you need to know about quantum computers and Bitcoin.

 What is a quantum computer?

Quantum physics involves the study of smaller structures than atoms. When the subatomic architecture is observed, the laws of physics disappear and crazy things start to happen. Quantum computers use these properties to perform calculations, even faster than the most powerful supercomputers.

Traditional computers (such as the one you are reading in this article) operate with 1s and 0s. If something is “true”, then the transistor is recorded as 1. If it is “false”, the transistor will read 0. There are billions of transistors in each computer. Since the birth of the first transistor in 1947, the transistor is estimated to have created 10 to the 21st power, making it the most manufactured device.

However, due to the so-called “quantum superposition”, transistors in quantum computers can record 1 and 0 at the same time, which means that quantum transistors are more powerful than conventional computers.

How do quantum computers crack Bitcoin code?

Bitcoin uses some kind of Crypto signature algorithm called “Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm” (ECDSA), and uses an encryption standard called SHA-256 to hash blocks on the chain. For Bitcoin, these algorithms run a randomly selected private key to generate a public key. Moreover, the Bitcoin protocol uses this hash value to create a public Bitcoin address.


                                                Google’s Quantum Computer (Image: Google)

The quantum computer may reverse this process and obtain the private key from the public key. Look! Bitcoin’s declared inviolability and indestructibility no longer exist. You can access any Bitcoin wallet you want.

Two major quantum algorithms that threaten the current state of cryptography have been developed: Grover algorithm and Shor algorithm.

“An adversary can insert his own block and destroy the entire blockchain.”

-Rob Campbell

Rob Campbell, president of Med Cybersecurity, a Baltimore-based medical company in Baltimore, told Decrypt that quantum computers using both Grover and Shor algorithms may also “mine faster than others. So Opponents can insert their own blocks, thereby destroying the entire blockchain.”

When will quantum computers pose a threat to Bitcoin?

It is estimated that you may need a quantum computer with at least 4,000 qubits (this unit is the capacity of a quantum computer) to crack the bitcoin code. The problem is that the most powerful quantum computer today is undoubtedly less powerful. In October 2019, Google announced a quantum computer with 54 qubits, which is the most powerful quantum computer announced in the public domain.

However, Campbell said that large companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, as well as many relatively small companies, are “accelerating progress.”

So, when will quantum computers threaten Bitcoin? It depends on whom you consult. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Google parent company (Alphabet) CEO Sundar Pichai (Sundar Pichai) was one of the first important figures to give the earliest deadline. He said: “In a period of 5 to 10 years, quantum computing will break the encryption technology we know today.”

Some blockchain leaders are not worried about this time limit. At the Web Summit 2019, Dr. Leemon Baird, founder of Hedera Hashgraph, compared the threat of quantum computing with the problem of the millennium bug. Doomsday theorists believe that after January 1, 2000, date and time problems will destroy the world’s major computer systems. Baird said: “Like 2000, we have to make some changes to the software in 2000. But is this the end of the world? In fact, it is not.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is also not worried. In October 2019, he told Forkast News: “For every encryption algorithm that a quantum computer can crack, we know we have a quantum An alternative that the computer can’t crack,…’Although it may be less efficient,’ we have an upgrade path, and we know what this upgrade path is. “

But Andersen Cheng, CEO of London-based crypto company Post-Quantum, told Decrypt that this threat may be imminent. In this intelligence community, Cheng is very clear, “There is already some evidence that it may take nearly two years to happen.” His company has cooperated with anti-terrorism organizations such as NATO, GCHQ and NCSC.


                          The Sycamore processor is the core of Google’s quantum computer (Image: Google)

Cheng said Pichai’s predictions are based on commercial quantum computers for 5 to 10 years; he said that no government would let people know that they hid a large quantum computer with a stadium size in an underground bunker. For Pichai to sell Google’s quantum computer to other companies, the quantum computer must be stable and practical. But for government computers, these are not important, “as long as you can start cracking the encryption technology,” Cheng said.

Cheng also refuted people’s concerns that quantum computers must be used exclusively to crack Bitcoin passwords, and whether this would take longer. Since the algorithms of Shor and Grover already exist, “People know exactly how to do it, but they have no ability to do it.” Now, people only have to wait for the ability to appear.

Is quantum secure blockchain possible?

Now, it is time for the blockchain and crypto community to build a quantum security blockchain.

An important milestone is a competition created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a post-quantum encryption algorithm. NIST is a standard-setter in the cryptography world, aiming to construct a post-quantum encryption algorithm to run to form a competitiveness . The winner of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will determine the algorithm of the blockchain that is suitable for quantum computers.


Then, the blockchain can fork into a post-quantum security algorithm. Or, the blockchain can start from scratch. For example, the creator of Crypto cash, David Chaum, has begun to study Praxxis, a “quantum-resistant” blockchain that claims to use quantum-resistant Crypto signatures to mark the platform’s native currency. Transaction, xxcoin.

Until then, Bitcoin holders will live in a state of quantum uncertainty.

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