One of the key features of blockchain technology is security. The blockchain is expected to be more secure than traditional systems. However, a recent report by scientists claims that the blockchain is prone quantum attacks. As you already know the blockchain is a secure digital authentication system and ledger that has no central authority. The scientists believe that quantum computers can be used to break codes on the blockchain. One of the experimental physicists that participated in the research Alexander Lvovsky said:
“Quantum computers can present a risk for security that is provided by cryptography. Blockchains are especially prone to Quantum attacks because they are 100% anonymous. The blockchain is protected by public key cryptography but traditional institutions are projected by ATMs, human tellers and plastic cards. To use a bank, you have to be human but no such requirement is available on the blockchain.”
Quantum Computers Vs Blockchain Technology
Computer processors typically translate information into individual units that are referred to as bits. These bits interact with one of two values through the rules of logic. These quantum computers have quantum bits that can be between zero and one when it interacts with the rules of the computer. Also, it’s operations are based on the physics of subatomic particles.
These new operations will make quantum computers more efficient that regular computers in terms of solving complicated tasks. While this feature will make quantum computers efficient for modeling chemical interactions and developing advanced artificial intelligence, it also makes it potentially capable to cracking public key cryptography.
Information is typically encrypted via one-way functions. This operation makes it easy to combine two inputs while making it difficult to untangle them at the same time. Cryptography, is known for multiplying large prime numbers. So, computers will be able to generate a code by multiplying large prime numbers. With the rate of development, quantum computers may eventually be capable of factoring cryptographic methods thus rendering them useless. While the researchers are quite certain this will happen, it’s not clear when the technology will reach this level of advancement.
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Blockchain technology depends on a one-way function in the creation of digital signatures that are difficult to forge. It combines new items to items that already exist on the ledger. However, there is no human defense. According to the author:
“Blockchain technology is at high risk of attacks from quantum computers because of this one-way function. The only protection the user gets is the one provided by the digital signature. This is unlike traditional financial systems where plastic cards, security questions, human cashiers and identity checks serve as a defense.”
For now, it’s difficult to determine how much damage such a technology could cause for blockchain. The technology behind quantum computers is still at its early stages compared to regular computers and blockchain technology. It may take several decades before the one that can cripple blockchain technology will be developed. This is assuming that this technology will ever be created. Between now and then, the blockchain, which is also evolving, may become more efficient and less prone to these attacks. There is no need to panic yet.