In an interview with Janine Darling CEO of STASH Global, a cybersecurity firm on the east coast of the United States, the issue of quantum computing and how it’s poised to threaten the security of governments and businesses globally was the main focal point.
“Quantum technology is something that very few people know how to write yet. However, there’s the idea that quantum could be around 40 years away, but there are also some people saying that it could arrive in the next five to ten years.”
“That’s going to change a lot of things,” continued Darling. “Most of the security available in the world today is not ready for quantum. If quantum gets in the hands of malicious actors, it will be another change that we need to address.”
Darling’s comments came after Google unveiled that it has achieved what some people refer to as ‘quantum supremacy.’ In a redacted paper published by NASA, Google was able to solve a calculation using quantum computers in 3 minutes and 20 seconds, while the fastest traditional computer in the world would have taken over 10,000 years to produce the same result.
However, despite Google’s powerhouse invention, not all experts were convinced of its threat. In correspondence with the Financial Times, IBM’s head of research Dario Gil said that Google’s machine was designed for this specific task, and thus lacks the flexibility to be adapted to other scenarios, such as breaking encryption algorithms.
Thus, the security of the world’s most commonly-used security algorithms, RSA and SHA appear to be safe, or at least for the next decade.
In an article posted by Canadian cryptographer Richard Evers, he states that “the hard truth is that widespread beliefs about security and encryption may prove to be based on fantasy rather than fact.”
The evidence Evers put forth to quell the fears of quantum and cryptography boil down to the lack of processing power and error correction to break the AES-256 algorithm, measured in qubits. It’s estimated that a machine would need to wield 6,681 qubits, while Google’s machine can presently manage 72 qubits.
The rise of quantum machines in this endeavor appears to be improving, with a recent research paper stating “experimental quantum error correction and fault tolerance is still in its infancy, but several impressive results have been achieved.”
Despite quantum machines are not quite ready yet to endanger the world’s security algorithms, firms such as the ISARA appear to be preemptively warning the public against their potential dangers, with ISARA stating:
“Within a decade, experts such as NIST have stated that currently used public-key cryptography will be broken by a large-scale quantum computer, putting you and your customers’ privacy and security at risk.”