Category Archives: encryption

Quantum Computers and Encryption

I should make a note on quantum mechanics and encryption to people having come from a computer science background. You really believe encrypting your data is safe? Read on…All numbers stored in a computer are 0’s and 1’s. This has traditionally meant on and off in electronics. In assembly language or binary, here is what a byte really looks like 0000 1111. It is 8 bits, so there are in essence 2 to the power of 8= 256 possible combinations in a byte, each of those bits can be 1 or 0. Encryption for today is based on an old math concept you may remember from school. A prime number has exactly two factors, 1 and itself. Any number can be written as a product of prime numbers. If you multiply two large prime numbers, you get a huge non-prime number with only two (large) prime factors. So concept of today’s encryption is it will be REALLY hard for a computer to figure out the 2 prime numbers when a large number is involved. Here is problem with this encryption: with quantum computing, there are 2 concepts called superposition and entanglement. Entanglement you can think of as 2 objects in space and time can be in same place at same time and do 2 completely different things. Einstein use to call this “spooky”. A mathematician named Peter Shor came up with a quantum algorithm that if a quantum computer exists, then all today’s encryption could be broken easily. The university of waterloo in canada already has a quantum computer prototype. All they really need to do to complete it is come up with enough “qubits”(these are particles we have that currently can do entanglement), so 2 objects can be in 2 places at same time, and all encryption is broken. Current record is 12 qubits. When quantum computers exist we will need a new algorithm that superimposes bits to make encryption sound again, but nothing you have right now cannot be broken, and when quantum hits, all your SSL, and non-symmetric encryption keys will be rendered useless, unless your already on board with an algorithm such as lattice for example. So this a quick note on where science is, fact we can make particles be in 2 places at one time now, and making sure you don’t believe your encyption is safe. As soon as scientists figure out how to make more qubits by studying decoherence, quantum computers are officially here.

Here is a reference for formula that will break all encryption when quantum computers have enough qubits: Shor’s Algorithm

And here is waterloo’s status where they are at with there current quantum computers: Waterloo University …. go CANADA!

Till Next Time,

Dan.