Supercomputer Could Crack All Types of Data Encryption

Computer-security specialists say crucial encryption methods for safeguarding the Internet will be rendered obsolete with the arrival of the quantum computer.

NEW YORK – An article in the journal Nature highlights what is thought to be the inevitable arrival of powerful quantum computers that can break the security of the Internet. Although these devices are thought to be a decade or more away, computer-security specialists are researching ways to scramble and protect private information as it traverses the Web and other digital networks.

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Although today’s hackers can, and often do, steal private information by guessing passwords, impersonating authorized users or installing malicious software on computer networks, existing computers are unable to crack standard forms of encryption used to send sensitive data over the Internet.

In theory, a large quantum computer could render crucial encryption methods obsolete. Quantum computers exploit laws that govern subatomic particles, so they could easily defeat existing encryption methods, according to the article.

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“I’m genuinely worried we’re not going to be ready in time,” says Michele Mosca, co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo in Canada and chief executive of evolutionQ, a cyber-security consulting company.

It will take years for governments and industry to settle on quantum-safe replacements for today’s encryption methods. Any proposed replacement – even if it seems impregnable at first – must withstand multitudes of real and theoretical challenges before it is considered reliable enough to protect the transfer of intellectual property, financial data and state secrets.

“To trust a cryptosystem, you need a lot of people to scrutinize it and try to devise attacks on it and see if it has any flaws,” says Stephen Jordan, a physicist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “That takes a long time.”

You can read the entire article here.

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