It has on numerous occasions been stated that quantum computing will put an end to all cryptocurrencies. These rumors have been fueled by the assumption that quantum computing can easily break all cryptography that exists – simply because these computers follow the quantum setup. Let’s just take a look in detail and see whether quantum computing really does come across as a threat to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
What are Quantum Computers?
Before we move on to comprehending whether quantum computers can put an end to the technology behind cryptocurrencies, we need to know what these computers are in reality. Quantum computers make use of the phenomena known as quantum mechanical phenomena. The underlying principle behind the basics of quantum computing is that quantum properties can represent data and eventually perform operations on them.
Although the concept of quantum computing is very much in the stage of infancy, there have been numerous experiments executed on a small number of qubits. The theoretical and practical research in this regard is still continuous as both national governments and military agencies are keen to develop this technology in the future for the use of civilian and national security interests.
The Threat to Cryptocurrencies
With the widespread use of quantum computers expected in the feature, the most daunting prospect and expectation by users keeping a keen eye is that these computers can easily crack open the public-key cryptography used by users to sign or verify their bitcoin transactions.
On a traditional binary computing system, it usually takes 2^128 operations to get a private key associated with the bitcoin public key. This number may look small to the eye, but in reality it is so hard to encompass that we can simply say that an attempt to crack open a bitcoin public key through the traditional binary computer is bound to fail.
Quantum computers, on the contrary, tend to follow a process named “Shor’s Algorithm”. This algorithm would bring the number down to around 128^3 operations, which is a significantly smaller number. The question that arises now is whether hackers or other parties interested in cracking the bitcoin public key can benefit from this enhanced feature of quantum computing?
The simple answer to this question is ‘No’. Since bitcoin mining is being done through binary computers, it is unlikely to be exploited through the quantum computers. We can say here that the process for mining bitcoins is already resistant to such attacks without the addition of any special measures.
Timeline for Quantum Computing
The addition of Quantum computing will be a giant benefit for mankind. The threats regarding bitcoin cryptography put aside, quantum computer by themselves could enhance the operations we perform through computers. Based on the interest of nation states and scientists towards this technology we can expect quantum computers to be out by 2030 to 2040.