Google Quantum Computing Supremacy: Threat To Blockchain Security

Google Quantum Computing Supremacy: Threat To Blockchain Security

blockchain securityBlockchain security has been brought to the limelight again because of the quantum computing supremacy claimed by Google. Last week, the tech giant released a scientific paper claiming it has attained quantum computing capability. Although this feat will have a significant impact on our future as humans, there are fears about what it means for the blockchain network. Quantum computing has been one of the quests on the tech radar for years, and the new advancement allows for complex equation problems o be solved faster than we have ever witnessed. 

Quantum computing has always been like an illusion to be pursued but never attained. Blockchain enthusiasts have been warned that quantum computing could render all existing encryption standards. This is a massive threat to the security of every significant blockchain network. The news report that Google has made a recent quantum computing breakthrough is worth the attention of the blockchain community. 

The report has it that using a quantum computer; Google was able to perform a calculation in just three minutes. This calculation would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10, 100 years to accomplish. As blockchain enthusiasts, we are right to worry as blockchain security might not stand a quantum computer at this point in time.

For starters, quantum supremacy is simply a term that refers to the moment when a quantum computer outshines the world’s best supercomputer in a specified task. Although this is just the first step, it is a massive step that has once again brought blockchain security to the spotlight. The quantum computer can unravel blockchain’s cryptographic algorithm in a matter of minutes.

The Google Quantum Supremacy

A report from Fortune who obtained a copy of the Google science report said that the Google quantum processor designated as “Sycamore,” contains 54 quantum bits or Qubits. Unlike the on/off conditions that the traditional computer data is restricted to, theoretically, quantum computing is only controlled by the breadth of quantum mechanics. In plain words, this new creation is compelling.

Without doubt, quantum computing is a new paradigm that will play a significant role in accelerating tasks for artificial intelligence (AI). It offers researchers and developers access to open source frameworks and computing power that can operate beyond the current classical capabilities. 

Is Google’s Quantum Computing A Threat To Blockchain Security?

Over time, quantum computing has always been the only innovation that threatens to break the blockchain security protocol. At the moment, the blockchain cryptographically secured public keys are the single barricade between your funds and financial catastrophe. With the ability to crack the encryption afforded to distributed ledgers, quantum computing would most likely spell the end for blockchain security.

Also read: Blockchain architecture explained in simple and clear terms

There is already a quantum shortcut that bypasses the public-key cryptography. It is called Shor’s algorithm. The calculation by Shor’s algorithm enables developers to extract the private key from any public key. It is more alarming when you know that Shor specifically targets the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). ECDSA is an algorithm that is used with most of the popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum. 

The major setback in blockchain’s fight against quantum attack is that it is highly reliant on one-way mathematical functions. This drawback was also highlighted in the article written by Aleksey K. Fedorov, Evgeniy O. Kiktenko, and Alexander I. Lvovsky, all from the Russian Quantum Center. These researchers highlighted how the one-way functions like the validation of transactions, and the creation of digital signatures, provide a point of weakness on the blockchain network for quantum computers. By only using these functions in reverse, although not possible for current technologies; quantum computers would enable an attack vector that can manipulate transaction history.

Extraction of the article reads thus “within ten years; quantum computers will be able to calculate the one-way functions, including blockchain that are used to secure the internet and financial transactions. The widely used one-way encryption would become obsolete.”

Can Blockchain Security Improve To Withstand Quantum Computing?

Well, the good news is that there a multiple attempts currently going on to fight the quantum threat within the cryptocurrency industry. There are several developers who are on course, to reduce the impact of a quantum threat. Davis Chaum, known as the father of digital cash, is working to create a quantum- resilient cryptocurrency called Praxxis. Chaum said that the project is built to withstand the exploits of quantum computing like Shor’s algorithm. It will combat the blockchain security breaker through the use of quantum-resistant signatures.

Another promising venture to withstand the exploit of quantum computing is being carried out by the United States NSA. A Tweet by William Turton, a Bloomberg Technology reporter showed that the NSA plan to create quantum-resistant cryptography. 

There is an essential requirement to be met before a quantum algorithm like Shor’s can break the blockchain security protocol. A research paper by the Center for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering showed that only a quantum computer containing 1500 Qubits could execute the algorithm to break blockchain security. The Google computing breakthrough only had 54 Qubits which is far below the required capacity. 

We should not relax and think that there won’t be a computer capable of running such an algorithm. According to Google researchers, the power of quantum computing is most likely to grow exponentially. This means that blockchain security can become obsolete if nothing is done to nullify the threat of quantum computing. 

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