Quantum Computing Concerns Cryptocurrencies

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Credit:DedMityay – stock.ado

Quantum computing has started to cause some concern. The world of cryptocurrencies has been a buzz and for good reason! Recent breakthroughs in quantum computing have brought new life to a well-founded concern. It deals with quantum computers reaching an appropriate size/power to perform the massive number of calculations needed to compromise standard encryption capabilities in a reasonable period of time.

The time period would be hours or minutes rather than years, decades or far greater. There are also those that share an opposing view. They believe this will take a decade or more before the quantum computing power advances to the required level to perform in hours or minutes. Who is right? How long will it take to retrofit all of the cryptocurrencies in operation (in time), with quantum encryption or some other fix? Is there any other fix? Are there concerns justified! Or is this risk overstated?

Looking for some insight, the best intelligence would seem to come by examining the actions of those that are on the frontline. In the first 20 days of this year, the cryptocurrency community had posted/published over 170 pieces talking about the potential risk of quantum computers breaking the encryption used in nearly all cryptocurrencies at this time. Add to that, the fact that some entities within the U.S. government seem to share the concern and some have actually even gone as far as to launch initiatives to begin and lay the groundwork to address this threat.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been looking at this problem for a few years now. In 2019, they announced 26 algorithms that would be advancing to the Post-Quantum Crypto ‘Semifinals’ that are thought to have the potential to address this threat. Putting all of this together, the clock is ticking. This is an issue that needs to be monitored by the cryptocurrency and financial services communities.