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How serious is the threat to Bitcoin from quantum computers?

  • According to a leaked report, Google has developed a quantum computer that clearly outshines traditional computer processors.
  • The crypto community is therefore discussing when and whether quantum computers pose a threat to the technology behind Bitcoin.

According to a leaked report, Google has achieved a major breakthrough in the development of a quantum computer. Google’s research report was not supposed to be made public. However, the document was mistakenly uploaded to Nasa.gov for peer review and removed shortly afterwards. In this short time, however, some users were able to download the document and distribute the information.

As Fortune now reports, Google succeeded in developing a quantum computer called “Bergahorn”, which has 54 quantum bits (qubits). To make this figure tangible, the researchers have drawn a comparison that describes the breathtaking performance of the computer:

While our processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of the quantum circuit 1 million times, a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task.

But that’s not all. According to the leaked information, Google will probably be able to further develop its quantum technologies at a “double exponential rate” like conventional computer processors. However, the report also states that Google’s quantum computer “can only perform a single, highly technical calculation. This could mean that it could take many years for the technology to solve real problems.

A threat to Bitcoin?

Many experts believe that quantum computers could be used to crack today’s (secure) standards of cryptography that make the blockchain forgery-proof and irreversible. As a result, following the publication of this news, the crypto community began to discuss whether and when quantum computing could pose a threat to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and all other Altcoins.

First, let it be said that there is no reason to panic. Google’s quantum computer, while enormous in power, is still many years away from actually being used to solve real-world problems such as decryption. In addition, operation is by no means possible for everyone, due in part to the costly cooling.

In addition, there are probably other places of use, such as the development of nuclear codes or state secrets. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that governments or other actors who own such a device will not use it to decrypt Bitcoin’s cryptographic technologies. Theoretically, two points of attack are conceivable.

For example, a quantum computer could probably crack the asymmetric private and public key cryptography by exploiting computing power to derive the private from the public key through the Shor algorithm. In particular, Shor can also be applied to the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) used by Bitcoin, but also by Ethereum. Bitcoin would then no longer be secure because the private key represents the ownership of Bitcoin.

The second point of attack is the mining algorithm. If this were cracked, all remaining Bitcoin could be mined within a very short time. In the case of Bitcoin, this is the SHA-256 hash function, which can be switched to a higher SHA3 algorithm at short notice. In the long run, however, new cryptographic algorithms will have to be developed.

But this is no reason to panic. As history shows, cryptography is to be understood as a race between encryption and decryption, in which Bitcoin still has a lead.

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About Author

Jake Simmons

Jake Simmons has been a crypto enthusiast since 2016, and since hearing about Bitcoin and blockchain technology, he's been involved with the subject every day. Beyond cryptocurrencies, Jake studied computer science and worked for 2 years for a startup in the blockchain sector. At CNF he is responsible for technical issues. His goal is to make the world aware of cryptocurrencies in a simple and understandable way.

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