For every device you have, there’s probably a password that you need to enter to allow you to use it. Whether it’s your computer, phone, door lock or safe, anything that contains personal or confidential information is likely to need some sort of code that only you know.
Now think about that on a macro level – all the machinations and information that lets entire countries, societies and industries function are underpinned by digital information and technologies that are protected by passwords.
It’s often said that the internet is a country’s soft underbelly, but now, with AI and quantum computing moving at an accelerated pace, it’s an accepted fact in many technological circles that passwords, however complicated and encrypted, won’t be enough to protect any information in the future.
The problem with passwords
Quantum computing has the potential to significantly impact the security of passwords and encryption schemes. The most well-known quantum algorithm, Shor’s algorithm, can efficiently factor large numbers and solve the discrete logarithm problem which makes password effective.
These problems form the basis of widely used encryption algorithms like RSA and elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC). If a sufficiently large and stable quantum computer is developed, it could potentially break these encryption schemes, rendering many current passwords and security systems vulnerable.
However building a large-scale quantum computer capable of running Shor’s algorithm remains a significant challenge. Researchers are actively working on developing quantum-resistant cryptography, which should be resistant to attacks by both classical and quantum computers. These post-quantum cryptographic methods, such as lattice-based cryptography, code-based cryptography, and hash-based signatures, are being designed to ensure that our passwords and encryption systems remain secure even in the face of quantum computing advancements.
Which country has the best quantum computer?
Currently, the most powerful supercomputer is the IBM “Osprey” computer, which can process 433 qubits of information, but China’s Zuchongzhi 2.1 is one of the world’s _fastes_t computers.
According to consultancy McKinsey & Co., China accounts for half of the nearly $30 billion of public funding that has been allocated globally to quantum computing.
“According to consultancy McKinsey & Co., China accounts for half of the nearly $30 billion of public funding that has been allocated globally to quantum computing.”
Like any country, it sees a definite advantage in having the most powerful computers to challenge what is often seen as a field dominated by western technologies and companies
While quantum computing has the potential to break certain types of passwords and encryption schemes, the development of quantum-resistant cryptography is a top priority to ensure ongoing security.
We are still a few years away from developing large-scale quantum computers capable of breaking widely-used cryptographic systems, but as computers get more powerful, countries will devote more time and resources to ensuring they aren’t left at a disadvantage in the field of quantum computing.