According to quantum researchers, Bitcoin’s encryption could soon be cracked. How real is the danger?
Quantum computers – a threat to BTC?
Bitcoin is considered by many to be indestructible: The number 1 cryptocurrency defies governments, is uncensible, and has been rising steadily for more than ten years. Now, however, quantum researchers are sounding the alarm, reports Forbes: According to this, the advances in quantum computers could lead to the encryption that Bitcoin uses being “fundamentally” undermined – and that by 2026. Only a fundamental update of the software is supposed to help.
This is what David Williams, founder of the quantum encryption company Arqit, believes, for example. In an interview with Forbes, Williams explains: Quantum computers are expected to be operational from 2026 – and then, due to their performance, will “loosely” bypass any blockchain security system. Something had to be done “urgently”, said the entrepreneur. Blockchains are fundamentally flawed if they do not deal with the changes caused by quantum computers.
Background quantum computers: Quantum computers are processors that use the laws of quantum mechanics. In contrast to conventional computers, they do not work on the basis of electrical, but rather quantum mechanical states. Theoretical studies assume that quantum computers work many times more efficiently than normal computers.
Quantum computers should be able to crack Bitcoin’s encryption in a significantly shorter time. With corresponding consequences: In this case, attackers could, for example, steal crypto currencies from individual users or seriously impair entire blockchains. It is also possible to reveal the transaction history of all users. Google boss Sundar Pichai has already commented on the advancing development of quantum computers: He also estimates that the encryption could be cracked in five to ten years.
Does Bitcoin need an update?
But what can be done to equip cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Co. against the threat posed by quantum computers? Is it real at all? Bitcoin lawyer Andreas Antonopoulos relativizes: Even if a quantum super weapon were to exist one day, it would be such a sensation that it would initially be kept secret – and not used against Bitcoin. Because: An attack on the Bitcoin network would reveal the existence of the quantum computer. And BTC is too unimportant for that.
Williams, on the other hand, warns that one day it may be too late to take action: The switch to post-quantum algorithms will “dramatically slow” blockchains. His solution: So-called quantum encryption key – a new encryption technique that even a quantum computer is powerless against.
Here, however, the crypto developers have a duty. Forbes quoted Duncan Jones, head of quantum cybersecurity at Cambridge Quantum Computing. He says: For decentralized networks it is important to start the migration process towards quantum security early. Careful planning and execution are necessary. However, he hopes that the developers understand the looming problems and take care of them.
That would then also be in the interests of all investors.
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