Quantum Computing – A Risk to Blockchain?
Friday August 2, 2019, by Balaram Venkat Srinivasan
By now, you have probably heard the words quantum computing and blockchain being thrown around in the news, in technology circles and on social media – but what exactly does one have to do with the other, and is quantum computing a risk to blockchain?
These questions are not so simple to answer, as both technologies are as new as they are innovative. As such, they have not reached the mainstream, so concrete proofs of concept are not yet available. Yet, that does not mean we should not explore the future of quantum computing and blockchain. Nevertheless, with the evolution of technology, there is always something new coming out, something faster and better, and it’s happening with greater frequency day by day.
For instance, look at cloud computing. Just a few years ago, cloud computing was seen as a risky proposition. Now, it is an integral part of many organizations’ business functions, with enterprises jumping in and having little to no fear that something could go wrong.
Yet, as we keep up with the rapid pace of technology, we must also know what to and what not to adopt, as is the case with quantum computing and blockchain. Today’s reality is that we are facing a number of challenges with blockchain being adopted and integrated. This, coupled with the rise of quantum computing, has led to concern that security and blockchain could be nullified in as little as a decade. So, this brings us back to the original question – is quantum computing a risk to blockchain?
To answer this question, first, we need to delve into what is blockchain and what is quantum computing. Only then, can we understand how quantum computing can impact blockchain.
What is blockchain
When many of us think of blockchain, we equate it with Bitcoin, but the future of blockchain goes far beyond that. Blockchain is poised to change, if not revolutionize, how business is done across many sectors – from financial services and manufacturing to government and healthcare.
Yet, for the “average” person, the inner workings and potential of blockchain remains a mystery – what is it and what can it do? In the simplest terms, a blockchain adds data to the blocks and securely stores a series of recorded data. Blockchain uses cryptography, creates a trusted environment and provides a way to document data with transparency.
What is quantum computing
Quantum computing is the future – it is the next generation technology that is still being discovered but already holds the promise to transform every industry by processing a million times faster than today’s computers. How? With current computers, information is stored as either a 0 or 1, whereas with quantum computing, information can be stored as both at the same time, enabling a vast number of calculations to happen simultaneously.
Impact of Quantum Computing on Blockchain
So, now that we know what each is, can quantum computing impact blockchain? Yes, and it does so by hitting at the nerve of blockchain because encryption will become meaningless. How? Blockchain’s security is based on its cryptographic functions and the assumption of great computing resources and time it will take to break into them. But with quantum computing’s extremely fast processing capability, encryption keys can be cracked at a much more rapid pace – perhaps even within minutes or seconds. Data will no longer be safe and can be easily and quickly decrypted.
But do not fret. As we know, technology is always changing, and with change, we can overcome the challenges. I believe the challenges and fear of information being rapidly decrypted and stolen can be overcome by utilizing quantum technologies, such as:
- Quantum Cryptography: Quantum computing is capable of processing dimensions. Quantum cryptography can be made stronger by utilizing the same quantum form computing, so that data cannot be easily decrypted.
- New Quantum Encryptions Development: Existing cryptography is given new encryptions and new algorithms that are stronger.
- Quantum Internet: All transactions happening over the internet will use quantum communication channels with quantum nodes. This way of using quantum technology for communicating and computational processing enhances security.
As we are experiencing on a daily basis, technology is evolving faster than ever, and sometimes, there are risks when adopting these new solutions. And when it comes any worries over the “what if” scenarios with quantum computing and blockchain, enterprise customers should not be afraid to adopt blockchain. Next generation technology solutions are usually for the benefit – but sometimes work against – existing technology. And we need to remember, this is just part of the technology evolution.