With the revolution of quantum computing, the safety of Bitcoin attacks that quantum computers can have on different cryptocurrencies and quantum-safe encryption is now a topic of debate. To deeply understand this problem, we have to realize what the actual problem is with cryptocurrency encryption protocols. The big thing that we’re concerned about is that the public key is exposed whenever you make a transaction. But there’s no reason that the public key can’t be exposed; that’s how public key encryption works because deriving the private key from the public key would take millions, and perhaps billions, of years depending on the key size. The problem that comes into play is that if we have a big enough and coherent enough quantum computer, it could potentially take that public key and derive the private key from it and actually use that private key to make unauthorized transactions on your behalf.

So, do quantum computers pose an imminent threat to cryptocurrency encryption protocols? And when should we really worry about quantum computing actually affecting cryptocurrency encryption protocols? Well, if you are not familiar with the latest developments in quantum technology, you would be surprised to know the state of the industry and academic research in the field and the commercial state of quantum computing. According to some researchers having deep insights into academic research in the relevant field, now is the time to worry because of the immense computing power gained by quantum computers in recent years and if the problem is not addressed, assets worth billions of dollars could be at the risk. According to one estimate, due to owners using unencrypted public keys or reusing their bitcoin addresses, 4 million Bitcoin, or 25% of all Bitcoin, are susceptible to an exploit by a quantum algorithm.


Remember that there’s still a difference between quantum cryptography and post-quantum cryptography. Post-quantum cryptography is still a mathematical problem and they don’t use any specialized equipment. They are mainly mathematical problems that we’re applying back and forth to encrypt and decrypt data. Quantum encryption, on the other hand, actually uses the physical laws of quantum mechanics to do the encryption and in that case, you’re using quantum properties to create a shared key between two parties and you be sure, it’s provably secure and that no one has spied on the creation of the key. This is due to the fact that the quantum superposition will collapse if you measure. According to Dr Robert Campbell, a senior cryptologist, anything can be hacked and if you say that something can’t be hacked, it’ll be hacked even faster for people to prove you wrong.

Even if quantum cryptography is probably secure using the laws of quantum mechanics that does not mean that there are no attacks whatsoever. The endpoints or the layers on top of it can be less secure or maybe, you can just be tortured into giving up your key. These attacks don’t attack the encryption itself but they still get the end result that you want. The amount of processing power needed to execute these cyber-attacks, according to researchers, would, however, be millions of times greater than that of the existing quantum computers, which have smaller than 100 quantum bits. And the current computers are unable to crack the SHA-256 encryption technique used to encrypt the Cryptocurrency Blockchain. However, experts working in the area of quantum cryptography have predicted that over the next ten years, there may be 10 million quantum bits being used.


In order to protect yourself against these kinds of attacks, you should do your own research and make sure that wherever you’re storing your cryptocurrency is safe, try to look into the security protocols offered, understand the cryptocurrency technology and see what the insurance is. You might actually be surprised to know how small the security teams are in some of these custodians and that would help you make a better decision to protect your capital. To wrap up the discussion, you might be asking yourself if you should keep quantum insecure cryptocurrencies in your portfolio and how would you exactly do it? If you ask people who are well informed about the nature of sensitivity of this topic, ones who are very well connected to the security side and to the quantum, you would get an insight that cryptocurrencies and NFTs are all here to stay and digital currency is not going anywhere.

However, they are skeptical that this is safe even now at this point in time. Here on the quantum side, I personally don’t think we’re that far ahead yet to challenge the encryption protocols immediately. However, in general, cryptocurrency is kind of the Wild West and there are a lot of security layers you have to think about. Quantum computing may not be the biggest risk factor right now but there are so many security issues in some of these custodians. Now, even if we assume that the elliptic curve encryption is safe today and that Shor’s algorithm won’t be in play for a decade or more, there’s still the end and security of all these systems that need to be considered. One of the best things these cryptocustodians can do is to be ready for an upgrade and it will take a really long time to upgrade these systems.


According to one Nest report, in some places, it takes up to ten years to audit everything and make sure everything is upgraded. That means if Nest releases its recommendations in the next two to four years and a large enough quantum computer is a decade away, then that’s not actually a lot of time to upgrade. So, for crypto custodians, having that plan in place, not only the ledger itself but a plan on all points of security to upgrade is necessary. And this goes for everyone, not just crypto custodians but banks or anyone else to evaluate and audit what third-party libraries you’re using that may not be upgraded quickly enough and make sure that all points of your app are secure and you have the plan to upgrade to protect yourself against these attacks that may take place anytime in the near future.

Even if a big enough quantum computer is a decade away or if we discover that some other country has a quantum computer and that we need upgrade quickly then at least you would already have a plan in place and even if it’s not a quantum computer, it could be another giant security breach because, after all, humanity has a habit of suddenly taking giant technological leaps forward, meaning the expected timelines for World altering Technologies can be subject to Rapid revisions, progress can really sneak up on you so you can be pretty sure that any crypto projects not actively working on Quantum resistance are most likely already well behind the curve.

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