A group of researchers from the Russian Quantum Centre claim to have successfully tested a quantum blockchain which is “unbreakable even for Russian hackers” and could theoretically be merged into the Bitcoin protocol.
According to the RQC website, the researchers trialled the technology on a Gazprombank platform, using a form of quantum cryptography and key distribution to form blocks while eliminating “elements of blockchain that are vulnerable to attacks via a quantum computer”.
Theoretically, quantum computing will vastly increase the speed of computation beyond that of even a supercomputer — and could possibly break the SHA 256 encryption that Bitcoin is based on. This outcome has long been fretted upon, although it has generally been dismissed by suggesting modern banking, and other crucial financial infrastructure, would also be critically affected if SHA 256 were to be cracked.
If the Russian Quantum Centre’s research proves true, it could provide Bitcoin with the means to make the current protocol quantum resistant.
International Quantum Computing Arms Race
Securing encryption and communications channels is an area of utmost importance, not only for cryptocurrency, but also for governments. This is in light of the modern day reliance on encryption and continuing hacks, leaks and cyber attacks.
It has led to an arms race in the quantum computing field. China has successfully tested an ‘unhackable’ communications system aboard the ‘Micius’ satellite, while the Israeli government has awarded a $2 million USD tender to build a quantum computing system to protect government data from increasingly powerful and complex cyber attacks.
The Israeli project will operate out of the Quantum Information Science Centre at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It aims to give Israel a technological edge at a time when keeping encrypted data safe is increasingly difficult.
— Hebrew University (@HebrewU) June 14, 2017
According to Sputnik News, the QISC plans to use single photons as a medium, as “quantum bits make it possible to perform calculations in new ways that are not possible in current communications systems”.
Quantum Technology a Defense or Weapon?
Privacy advocates worry that any new quantum technology will be used as a weapon rather than as a tool to protect the data of everyday users.
Due to the cost of research and development, governments will be the first to acquire any breakthrough technologies and would therefore acquire an edge in something as topical as the drive to stop encryption from becoming as ubiquitous and necessary as mobile phones.
There has been an ongoing global push for governments to enact encryption-busting laws that would provide authorities with backdoor access to users data, with the UK and Australia being the most recent examples. This does not come as a surprise, as the information gifted to the public by Edward Snowden, confirmed that governments were already doing this, illegally, using the NSA’s XKeyscore application.
The controversial NSA program not only infiltrates a multitude of commercial products via secret backdoors and exploits, it also collects masses of encrypted user data, which is stored, ready to be decrypted at a later date when the technology becomes available.
With the rise of quantum computing, that seems inevitable, however with potential breakthroughs such as the quantum resistant blockchain, that day may be pushed off far into the future.
What impact would quantum technology have on Bitcoin and blockchain? Let’s hear your thoughts.
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