Quantum Technology going to make Encryption Obsolete

Since the day of their creation, computers are getting better and better and better. The processing powers, memories and capabilities of the computers are getting better day by day. But, till now, we had been making computers on the same line. We used the semi-conductors like silicon and gallium to make the processors. Now, the researchers have gone a step further. The idea is to use the atoms and quantum properties of matter to make computing devices having enormous capabilities. This was just an idea and not a reality until Tuesday last week when the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have finally made a scalable computing unit making the use of quantum mechanics.

They used 5 atoms enclosed in iron and used laser beams to operate the system. The system was used to prime-factorize the number 15 and it did it successfully. The idea was presented as ago as 1994 by Professor Shor of the same university. The researchers claim that by increasing the number of atoms and the lasers used, the system can be made credible enough to implement Shor’s algorithm on practical grounds in real time.

This will surely increase the computing power of the computers by factors we cannot imagine but this also has a problem associated to it. The strongest encryption we normally use today is the 64 bit encryption. It means that a number from 264 is the key to decrypt the data. With the present computing technology, it is a task of about 100 billion years for the fastest super computer to break the key. Once the quantum technology is brought to life, the computing power will be so high that the computer will break the key in a millisecond or so. It means that if the quantum is made practical, the encryption and security protocols we use today will be broken locks.

The reason behind the quantum computers being so fast is that, they do not rely on the usual 0s and 1s. The quantum computers use qubit, the quantum version of a bit. This is a bit that can be a zero and a 1 simultaneously. It is strange and incomprehensible, but it exists and powers the quantum computer.

As far as the security risk is involved, the researchers have said that it is not possible anywhere in the near future to make a quantum computer to be used as a desktop. The five qubit system developed at MIT is so much unstable that it is destroyed after one calculation and has to be rebuilt. Added are the problems like cooling the super-hot computer.

To ensure safety of the highly sensitive organizations, the researchers have suggested adapting quantum-safe encryption. Currently 3AED is the encryption which is quantum proof. It encrypts the data with a 64 bit key and then the encrypted data (which is in the form of random text) is again encrypted by another 64-bit key and then for the third time. Though time consuming but this is a safe technique.

 

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