Can Blockchains Survive The Quantum Computer?
Since its inception, Blockchain adoption has grown significantly. Research in 2019 indicated 50% of businesses worldwide were either using, or considering the use of, the distributed ledger technology as part of their IT security strategy.
Blockchain promises the secure exchange of digital assets (such as currency, contracts and tokens) using peer-to-peer networks, without the need for trusted intermediaries. On a fundamental level, Blockchain relies upon cryptography to secure these assets. Whilst today’s encryption technologies may be sufficient to secure Blockchain against threats posed by classical computers, how might they fare against the emergence of the quantum computer?
In recent years we have seen massive investment in the field of quantum computing. Well-established programs, either state-sponsored or lead by global tech giants, have demonstrated significant advances in computing power and stability. Once the demesne of science fiction, the threat of the quantum computer is both real and imminent.
The computational power of a quantum computer would render the cryptographic principles behind Blockchain ineffective.
Blockchains in the Quantum Era
How will Blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric and Zcash survive the quantum computer? What can be done to ensure the long-term security of Blockchain? Could we possibly use quantum technologies to improve Blockchain? These are just some of the questions addressed in the new publication Blockchains in the Quantum Era. This paper, which features contributions from IDQ’s Bruno Huttner, was written by the Quantum Safe Security Working Group, in collaboration with the Blockchain Working Group of the CSA.
The publication provides an overview of Blockchain, including a summary of the main cryptographic tools used today. It also features a risk assessment of some leading Blockchains and previews what quantum-safe solutions may look like in the future.
“Digital Ledger Technologies (DLT) such as blockchain are being deployed as part of diverse applications that span multiple market segments. Application developers have successfully leveraged the blockchain characteristics of decentralization, immutability, cryptographic security and transparency to create the solution benefits of redundancy, non-repudiation and enhanced auditing/compliance. Blockchain infrastructures make very extensive use of digital signature algorithms, hashing algorithms and public-key cryptography. The rapid pace of progress that is being experienced with quantum computing technology has made the prospect of quantum computer cyber-attacks a very real possibility.”
About the Cloud Security Alliance
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing and to provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing.
The CSA is led by a broad coalition of industry practitioners, corporations, associations and other key stakeholders. Bruno Huttner, IDQ’s Director of Strategic Quantum Initiatives, is also chairman of the Quantum-Safe Security Working Group (QSS WG) at the Cloud Security Alliance.