Do Bitcoin Destroy Quantum Computers?



The power of the bitcoin network is enormous due to its complex cryptographic system; But what if computers make significant progress in the not-too-distant future because current cryptographic standards are no longer strong enough?

According to Decript, quantum processing is both good news and dangerous in nature. Because this technology allows computers to use the laws of quantum physics to speed up the calculation and processing of vast amounts of information that modern systems cannot easily make and reach this speed.

Quantum computers are currently at an early stage of development and are not widely available on the market; But the beginning of the era of using these systems is probably closer to what many people imagine.

Is it possible to break the private bitcoin key?

For a start, this has never happened before, but one of the options available for obtaining a private key in a bitcoin wallet is the “brute force” of the private key itself.

This type of attack involves a complete, automated computer search for possible combinations of private key guessing, thus allowing one person to gain access to another person’s assets.

The problem for today’s hackers, however, is that each private key is one of 2 out of 256 states they have to guess. To understand the magnitude of this number, it must be said that the total number of atoms in the universe is probably less than that. Modern computers are also unable to guess this number; Unless they are processed continuously for several hundred years.

How far are we from the study of quantum computers?

Quantum computing technology is currently advancing well. In February 2021, Microsoft announced the launch of a service called Azure Quantum, which is designed to bring quantum technology to the company’s computers.

In China, computer component maker SpinQ is working on a quantum system that wants to launch it as a public product, if possible, for only $ 5,000. In March 2022, the NATO Cybersecurity Center announced that it had successfully completed a test of a communication security scheme called the “post-quantum world”.

Is Bitcoin really at risk?

Do Bitcoin Destroy Quantum Computers?

In the post-quantum world, bitcoin is somehow at risk; Because transactions of this digital currency are always waiting in line for processing; However, the processing time is not very long.

New blocks of the bitcoin network are retrieved on average every 10 minutes, and as you probably know, not all eligible transactions are included in the first available block, and some are queued. Once a transaction is out of queue and registered in one of the network blocks, it can no longer be manipulated. However, before the transaction is verified, it is “theoretically” possible to simulate the private key of an address, which allows the hacker to steal funds from the user’s wallet before checking the new block on the network.

Read also: quantum computers and digital currencies; Everything you need to know

In an interview with Decrypt, Andersen Cheng, CEO of Post-Quantum, a company active in quantum processing and network security, said:

When a public key is discovered, the quantum computer can find its private key almost instantly, in minutes or hours at most.

However, Cheng believes that this threat is not only related to the issue of authentication of transactions, but also affects consumer confidence.

The CEO of Quantum Post says:

The main threat is not the leak of private keys, but rather the argument that quantum computers can emulate the victim’s private key without the victim realizing it, undermining investor confidence in the signature feature.

However, we have not yet reached such a stage. Destroying such a level of cryptography requires a processing power of 1.9 billion cubic meters, according to Mark Weber of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. This is a very high figure; Especially considering that IBM’s best quantum computers currently have only 127 qbps of computing power.

Do Bitcoin Destroy Quantum Computers?
IBM Quantum Computer.

Earlier, Cheng said in an interview with Decriptum that quantum computing is not something that will enter our world soon. However, it cannot be said that quantum calculations and the risks that this technology can pose will not affect the digital currency industry.

Cheng said:

People who say we don’t have to worry about quantum computers because we’re 10, 20, or 30 years old often talk about commercial quantum computers. In the world of cybersecurity, however, the threat is closer to us than you think.

In fact, according to some estimates, it may take only five years before we reach a quantum computer that can break the code of an encrypted system. Of course, this does not mean that quantum computers will be able to bypass the Bitcoin cryptographic system in the next 5 years.

Referring to the inevitability of this problem, Cheng added:

we [اکنون] We are concerned about the prototype of a low-quality quantum computer built in a basement (targeting the University of Maryland project). This computer can destroy current cryptographic models and, as I explained earlier, also includes digital currencies in the dangers of this technology. In general, digital currency ecosystems need to be protected by quantum computers.

Atrium co-founder Vitalik Butrin said in 2019 about quantum computers:

If I have to summarize in one sentence the latest advances in quantum computing technology, I would say that their relationship to real quantum computing is something like the relationship between hydrogen bombs and fusion. It is possible to prove whether this phenomenon exists and its energy use; But we are still far from reaching the stage of its actual use.

Read also: The future of bitcoin; 12 scenarios from gold exchange to destruction

What can be done to address the dangers of quantum computers?

Many are finding ways to avoid this potential problem, which will not only affect bitcoin and digital currencies, but also other cryptographic systems, such as banks.

Researchers at Imperial College University have proposed a soft fork for the bitcoin blockchain that could lead to “secure asset transfers between quantum-resistant portfolios.” Others suggest increasing the size of bitcoin keys.

However, CoinShares, a digital asset management company, wrote on its website that it would be irrational to use quantum computing to break the cryptographic structure of bitcoin, even if not in vain.

Kevin Shears said:

We believe that by summarizing the development costs and technical capabilities of quantum computers, we can conclude that competition with ASIC miners is technically and economically impractical now and perhaps forever.

Despite these statements, Kevin Shears experts recommend that in order to avoid potential threats, it is better to “change the current cryptographic infrastructure” over the next decade.

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