Clinic that bought quantum computer could ‘steal’ bitcoin?
For many years, the possibility that the security of cryptocurrencies could be broken with quantum computing has been a matter of debate among experts. Despite this, professionals and at least one company say that this possibility does not exist.
Whereas traditional computers operate with “bits”, which encode 0 or 1, quantum computers use “qubits”, which can be 0 and 1 at the same time. Called “overlay”, this phenomenon allows a large amount of calculations to be done simultaneously.
The issue resurfaced this week after IBM announced the installation of the first quantum computer outside the company’s labs. The client, in this case, was the Cleveland Clinic, a project located in the homonymous city. With the machine in hand, could the clinic mine bitcoins? Not really.
The machine acquired by the enterprise has much less than 1,000 qubits of processing, and to break a bitcoin code, it would take around 4,000 qubits, according to estimates.
And even for the future we shouldn’t be so worried. At least that’s what Roger Huang, a blockchain expert, says. In an article published at the end of last year, in forbes, the technician says that the so-called “quantum supremacy” is greatly overrated by people.
He said that currently quantum computers aren’t that much better than “ordinary” computers, and most of the tasks they perform impressively are “trivial”.
The expert argued that, for the danger to exist, the development of machines would have to be towards tasks that can “materially affect cryptocurrencies and cryptography so that quantum supremacy is important”.
About this, he admitted that the use of the Shor Algorithm, which can factor prime numbers at an incredible speed, which common computers cannot, can even be a problem. The concept can be used to break cryptography. However, there are already counterpoints to this.
“The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States has already begun to put together proposals for post-quantum cryptography, which would work and not be broken even with quantum computers much larger than what we are currently able to build,” Huang explained .
He added that, even assuming the existence of a powerful machine, which should only happen 20 years from now, according to NIST, potential fraudsters would have to find people’s public keys and make them subject to attacks.
The most optimistic view of this scenario is also shared by LocalBitcoins, a kind of cryptocurrency exchange house. Late last year, the company released a statement saying that digital currencies have improved over time and will continue on that path for years to come.
Despite the concern, according to the store, several factors create peace of mind and point to a future in which cryptography will be resistant to quantum computing. “When the quantum threat becomes more imminent, cryptography will have shifted to more quantum-universal-proof algorithms,” the company defended.
In the specific case of bitcoin, the brand recalled that the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) algorithm is the one that runs the most risk. It is used to generate public or private keys that securely sign transactions.
“Today’s quantum computers only exist in labs and will go a long way in threatening cryptocurrencies,” says LocalBitcoinstratou’s text to reassure enthusiasts.