Posted 15 января 09:11

Published 15 января 09:11

Modified 16 января 06:35

Updated 16 января 06:35

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The "quantum apocalypse" is only a few years away, experts warn

15 января 2023, 09:11
The advent of quantum computers will make vulnerable any information stored on the Internet, from medical records and banking details to state secret information.

Experts warn that the so-called quantum apocalypse, when new super-powerful computers will make any person's Internet data vulnerable, is only a few years away. Quantum computers, which are being developed, in particular, by such giants as Google and IBM, will be able to crack encryption that protects personal data and disclose confidential information, including bank details, the Daily Mail reports, citing the opinion of cybersecurity experts.

Modern computers are used to protect information – for example, personal correspondence, an encryption system with a public key. The device by which you are contacted uses your computer's public key, turning it into a multi-digit number for encryption. In turn, your device opens the message with its private key, which decrypts the message.

This system has been around since the 1970s and is still quite reliable: it would take about 300 trillion years for ordinary computers to crack the code. However, quantum computers will be able to do this. Thanks to their huge computing power, they will be able to solve problems in a few seconds, which today's computers take years to solve, and decrypt data with billions of cipher variants. Calculations of any computer are based on binary code, but if a classical computer has bits consisting of zeros and ones, then a quantum computer has qubits that can take the value of zero, or one, or both at the same time.

This will make vulnerable any information stored on the Internet, from medical records and banking details to state secret information. Cybersecurity experts call the scenario in which any owner of a powerful computer will be able to access encrypted information a quantum apocalypse, or Q-Day. Governments are aware of this possibility, so, for example, the administration of US President Joe Biden last year announced plans to update its security system by 2024 to protect against a quantum attack.

While quantum computers are in their infancy. However, IBM, for example, at the end of last year, has already introduced a quantum computer with record power: the Osprey machine, consists of 433 qubits. The number of qubits, that is, quantum bits, is an indicator of the power of a quantum computer. To imagine such a power, it is enough to say that there are more classical bits (ones and zeros) in it than there are atoms in the universe.

At the same time, as a study by Chinese scientists has shown, in order to crack reliable encryption, a computer does not necessarily have to be so powerful: an indicator of 378 qubits is enough. The spread of such computers can be expected in the next 8-20 years. Sooner or later, quantum computers will make the existing cryptography useless, and it is necessary to prepare now for the transition to new cryptographic algorithms that are on the way. With this in mind, cybersecurity companies are developing "quantum-secure" encryption that would be immune to the power of quantum computers.