Quantum threat looms large for Bitcoin


The ascent of Bitcoin may have divided the world on its appeal, but this division also extends to just how secure its underlying technology is. Another radical new technology may pose a significant threat to it.

Quantum computing, what else?

This column on Forbes goes over the dangers a large-scale quantum computer may pose to blockchain, and in particular to the network that powers the world’s most popular digital currency. The fears are real, it is argued.

In another one of his pieces, the author makes a case:

“Quantum technology will be poised to decrypt the complex algorithms that asymmetric encryption systems use to secure almost all electronic data, including blockchain…. More specifically, blockchains rely on ECC – Elliptic Curve Cryptography – for authentication which can be broken by future quantum computers. So instead of the answer to all our cybersecurity vulnerabilities, blockchains could become just as vulnerable as web browsers, VPN’s, and other systems.”

And with the world currently in the midst of a Bitcoin boom, others are starting to ask the same questions. Studies are being conducted on whether the threat of future quantum computers to Bitcoin is real, or if it is something that can be ignored.

Deloitte has jumped into the conversation, with a recent report taking a deeper dive into the technical side of things, and whether Bitcoin encryption can be broken by powerful quantum computer.

Thing is, the real threat will emerge when these types of machines become many scales larger than they currently are. It is then when different avenues of attack and perhaps other more unpredictable ones may emerge.

Ultimately, the developers of these cryptocurrencies and the networks that power them might need to update their code and cryptography to protect against quantum break-ins.

Because, right now, it’s simply a question of when, not if.

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