Fortunately, symmetric key encryption methods are not in danger because they operate very differently and can be secured by increasing the size of the keys they use — that is, unless mathematicians Scientists can figure out how to get quantum computers to break those locks, too. . But even increasing the key size cannot protect existing public-key cryptographic algorithms from quantum computers. New algorithms are needed.
What are the consequences if quantum computers break the encryption we currently use?
Yeah, that’s bad. If public key encryption were suddenly broken without an alternative, digital security would be severely compromised. For example, websites use public key encryption to maintain a secure internet connection, so sending sensitive information across websites is no longer safe. Cryptocurrencies also depend on public key encryption to secure their underlying blockchain technology, so the data on their ledger will no longer be trusted.
There is also concern that hackers and countries may hoard highly sensitive government or intelligence data—Data that they cannot currently decipher — to decrypt it later when quantum computers become available.
How is work on quantum resistance algorithms progressing?
In the US, NIST searched for new algorithms that could resist attacks from quantum computers. The agency started accepting submissions from the public in 2016 and so far they have been narrowed down to 4 finalists and 3 fallback algorithms. These new algorithms use techniques that can resist attacks from quantum computers using the Shor Algorithm.
Project leader Dustin Moody said NIST is on track to complete the standardization of four finalists by 2024, including creating guidelines to ensure that new algorithms are used consistently. correctly and safely. It is expected to standardize the remaining three algorithms by 2028.
The work of examining candidates for the new standard rests mainly with mathematicians and cryptographers from universities and research institutions. They submit proposals for post-quantum cryptographic schemes and find ways to attack them, sharing their findings by publishing papers and building on each other’s different attack methods.