Quantum-Proof Blockchains?

Researchers in Russia say they’ve developed and tested the world’s first blockchain that won’t be vulnerable to encryption-breaking attacks from future quantum computers.  This technique could be a means of protecting fast-growing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum which are safe from today’s code-breaking methods, but could be exposed by tomorrow’s vastly more powerful quantum machines.  A team from the Russian Quantum Centre in Moscow says its quantum blockchain technology has been successfully tested with one of Russia’s largest banks, Gazprombank, and could be used as a proof of concept to underpin secure data encryption and storage methods in the future.

Blockchain what?

Blockchain is a publicly accessible, decentralized ledger of recorded information, spread across multiple computers on the internet.  This kind of distributed database is the underlying technology that makes Bitcoin possible where it maintains a list of time-stamped digital transactions that can be viewed by anyone on the platform.  The idea is that the blockchain frees users on the network from needing any kind of middleman or central authority to regulate transactions or exchanges of information.  Because all interactions are recorded in the distributed ledger, the blockchain makes everything a matter of public record, which, when it comes to Bitcoin, is what ensures that transactions are legitimate, and that units of the currency aren’t duplicated.  Check out the video below…

But there’s a problem…

When a computer conducts a transaction, the system uses digital signatures for authentication purposes and while that protection layer may offer strong enough encryption to secure those exchanges today, they won’t be able to withstand quantum computers.

“In our quantum-secure blockchain setup, we get rid of digital signatures altogether.  Instead, we utilize quantum cryptography for authentication…”

Quantum cryptography depends on entangled particles to work, and the researchers’ system used what’s called quantum key distribution, which the researchers say makes it possible to make sure nobody’s eavesdropping on private communications.

SOURCE: Sciencealert.com

Will Quantum Computers mean the end of Unbreakable Encryption?

Friends, first of all no encryption scheme is “unbreakable”; None.  Its simply a function of time and effort.  That being said, there is a computing revolution coming, although nobody knows exactly when. What are known as “quantum computers” will be substantially more powerful than the devices we use today, capable of performing many types of computation that are impossible on modern machines. But while faster computers are usually welcome, there are some computing operations that we currently rely on being hard (or slow) to perform.

Specifically, we rely on the fact that there are some codes that computers can’t break – or at least it would take them too long to break to be practical. Encryption algorithms scramble data into a form that renders it unintelligible to anyone that does not possess the necessary decryption key (normally a long string of random numbers). This is what lets us send information securely over the internet. But will quantum computers mean we can no longer create encryption techniques that can’t be broken?

For one system, known as symmetric encryption, quantum computing doesn’t pose much of a threat. To break symmetric encryption you need to work out which (of many) possible keys has been used, and trying all possible combinations would take an unimaginable amount of time. It turns out that a quantum computer can test all these keys out in one square root of the time it would take existing computers – in other words, slightly less time but not so dramatically that we need to worry.  This, in part, is the reason we have been working hard on OTPSME; unbroken in over two years with over 6000 decryption attempts.

But for another type of encryption system, known as asymmetric or public-key encryption, it doesn’t look so good. Public-key systems are used for things like securing the data that comes through your web browser. They encrypt data using a key that is available to anyone but need another private key for decryption.  Fortunately, we have already foreseen this pending disaster. Researchers across academia, government and industry are currently working hard to develop new public-key encryption techniques that rely on different, harder calculations that will be immune to the powers of a quantum computer. I am confident that these efforts will be successful, particularly since we already know some techniques that appear to work. By the time that quantum computers arrive, we will be ready.  Below is a really good primer on Encryption in general as well as Quantum Encryption:

SOURCE – TheConversation.com

Quantum Chess?

quantum_atomFriends, The next generation of chess is here, and it involves Quantum Mechanics.  Say what?  As if the game isn’t difficult enough. Quantum Chess incorporates principles of quantum mechanics, such as superposition and entanglement, into regular chess gameplay. For example, a piece can exist in two places at the same time (superposition) until the player’s opponent observes the piece by moving another piece into one of the spaces that it might occupy, collapsing the quantum field and forcing it to exist in either one location or the other. And two pieces can become entangled when one piece tries to move through another that happens to be in superposition, joining their fates.  The ultimate goal of the game is to kill the opponent’s king, not to reach checkmate. This is some pretty deep stuff; check it out…

A quick primer on Quantum Chess Paul Rudd vs Stephen Hawking Quantum Chess match

SOURCE – USC.edu

NSA To Ensure Quantum Computers Can’t Break Encryption?

1000-Qubit-ChipThe NSA is worried about quantum computers. It warns that it “must act now” to ensure that encryption systems can’t be broken wide open by the new super-fast hardware.  In a document outlining common concerns about the effects that quantum computing may have on national security and encryption of sensitive data, the NSA warns

 “public-key algorithms… are all vulnerable to attack by a sufficiently large quantum computer.”

Quantum computers can, theoretically, be so much faster because they take advantage of a quirk in quantum mechanics. While classical computers use bits in 0 or 1, quantum computers use “qubits” that can exist in 0, 1 or a superposition of the two. In turn, that allows it to work through possible solutions more quickly meaning they could crack encryption that normal computers can’t.

It’s unclear if any public encryption algorithms are quantum computer-proof. In the document, the NSA explains that “while a number of interesting quantum resistant public key algorithms have been proposed… nothing has been standardized… and NSA is not specifying any commercial quantum resistant standards at this time.”  Instead, it suggests that companies and government departments concerned about the threat of quantum computing use one of a number of algorithms that don’t use a public key to encrypt data where possible.  By the way, OTPSME is not a public-key encryption system.

SOURCE – Gizmodo.com

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