Quantum Computing and Blockchain: Can Computers Steal Your Bitcoins?
Researchers believe that the majority of modern cryptographic protocols – which make transactions and other financial operations secure – can be attacked by quantum computers by 2027. The most vulnerable ones are cryptocurrencies, and especially BTC. Let’s discover what the possibilities of quantum computing are, how it can damage DLT’s safety and if there is a need to worry.
What is quantum computing?
The innovative quantum computing is the technology which uses quantum-mechanical components for data analysis. For storing information, instead of classical bits, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits – it helps them to process data and solve problems faster.
While classical bits only hold one binary value – “0” or “1” – qubits hold their combinations. Therefore, quantum computers, compared to traditional ones, are more effective and able to store a lot of information using less energy.
How quantum computing is connected to blockchain?
Blockchain transactions are secured through public key cryptography – the information is encrypted with the help of pair of keys. Public key is accessible widely, while private key is only known for the owner – therefore, only the key holder can decrypt the message.
To hack the system, it is necessary to determine this private key, however, today it is almost impossible due to the lack of computers’ processing power. Here quantum computers come to play as they have the potential for this kind of attack.
Why are cryptocurrencies under threat?
According to the researchers, quantum computers will be able to generate the private key from the public one easily in 10 years. The attack can be effective because there is a period of around 10 minutes between the transaction sending and its appearance on blockchain.
It is believed that by 2027, this amount of time will be enough for quantum computers to generate the private key and steal crypto coins.
How to protect cryptocurrencies from quantum computers’ attacks?
Blockchain enthusiasts concerned with quantum computers’ possibilities are working on the solutions.
Quantum resistant blockchains
One way of securing cryptocurrencies is starting using quantum resistant blockchains. They are different from ordinary ones by the cryptographic system use for security. The widely used system is the elliptic curve – creation of key pairs by prime factorization mathematics.
However, for quantum resistant ledgers, it is suggested to generate private keys using hash cryptographic structures – they can’t be broken even by quantum computers.
The second option of securing crypto is using private blockchains. Although they are not as decentralized and distributed as public ones, their structure will make quantum computers’ attacks impossible.
The main reason for this is that private blockchains can’t be accessed by everyone – users need the permission to join them. Network creators send invitations to users, and this way, the access is opened, however, it is strictly controlled, and nobody can join the private ledger without validation.
Although experts say that quantum computing will need approximately 10 years to be able to hack blockchain, there are also specialists’ predictions that by that time, DLT will develop as well.
In the future, quantum technology may allow gate speeding up to 100GHz – so, today’s PoW will be solved about 100 times faster than now. However, by the time quantum technology reaches the necessary level, blockchain will be improved, too.
Today, quantum computers don’t pose a threat to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Also, DLT keeps developing, introducing new solutions and updating algorithms, therefore, it is resistant to attacks and eliminates any reasons to worry.