These cryptographic protocols make cracking a blockchain using today’s computers practically impossible, but the system does have weak points quantum computers could exploit.
For their paper, Aggarwal and his colleagues examined how quantum computers could break through Bitcoin’s security in two ways: by mining more than classical computers can and by cracking Bitcoin’s cryptographic keys.
The researchers found that the application-specific integrated circuits currently used by most cryptocurrency miners should be able to maintain a speed advantage over quantum computers for the next 10 years, so miners likely won’t be able to use quantum systems for nefarious purposes in this manner for at least a decade.
While conventional computers don’t possess the necessary computational power to derive a private key from a public key, quantum computers could do it rather easily.
“[T]here is little doubt that the power of quantum computing could be used to ‘crack’ current encryption methods,” William Hurley, the chair of the Quantum Computing Standards Workgroup of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, told Futurism.
Quantum computers could potentially become so powerful they require their own kind of cryptography, but that doesn’t mean Bitcoin and today’s encryption methods must be scrapped entirely.
According to MIT Technology Review, Bitcoin doesn’t have any plans to revise its current security protocols just yet, but with usable quantum computers still a decade or two away, cryptocurrency platforms have time to reconsider their encryption methods.