Having worked with Abertay University and Police Scotland to create an immersive cybercrime app https://dromansolutions.com/product/ to help police officers keep up to date with the ever-changing world of cybercrime, the thought of quantum computing changing cyber security as we know it is definitely something that we find intriguing.
How long will it take for a quantum computer to crack an encryption code do you ask? Well the answer is what brings me to this topic in the first place.
Quantum computers have the ability to solve some of the world’s most complex problems even beyond the reach of today’s supercomputers.
An encryption that might take a regular computer a billion years to decode will only take a quantum computer about 100 seconds according to Julie Love Ph.D. Director, Quantum Business Development.
Now I know what you are thinking if you are new to the concept of quantum computing…
That is crazy! What does this mean for the future of cyber security?
Well let’s first look at the very basics of quantum computing and what makes it so fast.
The difference between a regular computer and a quantum computer
A regular computer operates on 1’s and 0’s, these act as on and off switches and are known as bits (binary).
A quantum computer uses qubits (quantum bits), these can represent 0, 1 or both, at the same time.
This means that if you were trying to work out the correct combination for a password, a regular computer would try each combination one at a time, but a quantum computer would try all the combinations at the same time.
The risk is near but it is not here
Qubits are very difficult to create and require an operational state of almost exactly -273 C° to take advantage of a superconducting quantum processor. The environment needs to be perfect to run a quantum computer and there are many more challenges that they face in operation.
So, at this point in time it is too costly and difficult to operate for them to pose any sort of immediate threat.
While IBM claims that quantum computing will be a mainstream reality in the next five years this number still seems optimistic according to Christopher Barnatt, Associate Professor of Strategy & Future Studies in Nottingham University Business School.
Will there be any hope for cyber security once quantum computers become mainstream?
Yes there will be hope. Quantum computers will make some forms of encryption useless, but we have the time to move towards new forms of encryptions. Some encryptions are already using quantum safe algorithms. An example of a quantum safe algorithm is…
Quantum Key Distribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_key_distribution
Now instead of a bit holding one possible answer it is holding two and on top of this QKD has the ability to tell if a third party is trying to eavesdrop. If a third party is detected but is below a certain threshold a secure code can be generated but if the risk is high the attempt to communicate between receiver and sender will abort.
This seems like it may help in the early stages of commercial quantum computers and possibly long-term.
What are your thoughts?