IBM presented a first standalone 50-qubit quantum computer. While there’s a low chance that anyone would want to have it in their own server room, you can soon hire its power and harness it to your own business goals. Can you use it to corrupt blockchain and exploit a cryptocurrency?
The power of quantum computing
Quantum technology unlocks impressive computing power, but that’s not the case. The real danger for blockchain protection are the unique features, that makes quantum computers perfectly positioned for solving one-way functions. Sadly, one-way functions are the main line of blockchains’ defense.
The security of public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum is based on a permanent arms race. Quantum computing basically brings a gun to this knife fight.
At the moment, the costs of the technology are overwhelming, so we do not have to worry about this scenario. But as the history proves, in IT a lot can change in a few years.
How to protect the blockchain from quantum computers?
The obvious answer is: make the network private or use Proof of Authority based consensus algorithm. Restricted access to the chain allows the owner to control nodes and can ensure, that only trusted partners will be able to interact with it.
However, that does not allow us to fulfill the great promise of the open blockchain, and would be against the very nature of Bitcoin.
For those, who want to stay open, there are solutions based on more complex hashing and creating better keys. They can help to neutralize the quantum computing advantage. You might like to take a closer look at Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) project, that suggests a solution to the quantum computers’ challenge.
What’s more, while quantum computing can question the safety blockchain, it can also improve it. Imagine a quantum network, connecting quantum computers, running quantum nodes. Combining features of both technologies, we can create a new value of efficiency, power, and security.
This challenge proves, that we cannot build a “one for all” immutable blockchain solution: the technology evolves at an amazing pace, and we can see it every day. Current solutions can become obsolete, and we have to keep working on adjusting them to the new threats.
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