How Will Quantum Computers Affect Cyber Security?

quantum computing

The use of Quantum theory-based technology seems likely to be the next revolution in the computing industry. This assertion is further reinforced by the fact that significant investments have been made in research and development for quantum computing by several big tech players such as Intel, Microsoft, IBM, and Honeywell. The first revolution in computing came when it slowly transitioned from being largely mechanical to digital. The goal now is to make the transition from digital to quantum tech.

So, what is the current scenario?

We must always remember that every major stride comes with it its own share of pros and cons. If quantum tech if implemented as expected, it should be able to largely outperform current supercomputers in complex calculations and the problems deemed to be unsolvable by any current system in existence. The flip side is that it also increases the risk of cybersecurity breaches thanks to its excellent decryption potential.

Cybersecurity breaches after all are the greatest threat to global computing in this current digital age. Thanks to the internet, malware has managed to rampantly creep into systems worldwide. Consequently, this has led from relatively minor issues such as a corrupted registry to events causing widespread chaos – Major companies have fallen prey to ransomware and have been forced to pay large sums of money in exchange for their data. Several instances of cyber-attacks on Government servers have also been documented.

Normal individuals are also subject to malware attacks – from eating up free space on your drive and damaging operating system files to more severe problems such as personal data theft – something like your credit card information. This is exactly why an ID protection service is so important today. Fortunately, most reputable antivirus software companies are aware of this and include it as a part of their services.

What is quantum computing?

Before we delve deep into the cybersecurity aspect of the quantum age, let’s try to understand what quantum computers all are about.

Computers today use ‘bits’ as the fundamental unit of storing or processing data. A bit at any given time can have either one of two values – true or false or to rephrase it in binary terms, one or zero. Quantum computers utilize aspects of quantum mechanics such as superimposition and entanglement. Superposition essentially refers to the ability of a particle to coexist simultaneously in different states.

The quantum equivalent of a bit is referred to as a qubit. So, while one bit can have only one definite value assigned to it at any given time, thanks to superposition, a qubit can oscillate between any value between zero and one. This ability makes it a lot quicker when used as fundamental unit while solving large-scale calculations. To elaborate further – it requires 2n calculations to solve a problem using bits as your computing unit (n being the number of bits involved), a single qubit can do all n calculations simultaneously. This enables quantum computers to solve larger calculations. Quantum entanglement on the other hand enables quicker solutions to complex problems as it allows multiple qubits present in the same quantum state to correlate with each other.

The cybersecurity impact: 

Most modern encryptions use a 128-bit key which is logically impossible to crack using current hardware due to technical limitations. This however can be possible using quantum computing due to their huge advantage in solving complex calculations – as discussed in the previous section.

However, there is a catch – current quantum-based systems deal in qubits significantly lower than what is required to do the above. It is expected to take at least a decade to increase the qubit count to the target level and to implement the necessary refinements for error-free results. We will probably observe the use of 256-bit encryption keys when that happens.

So for the near foreseeable future, be assured that your data is safe as long as it is encrypted using 128-bit encryption. Try to use your data judiciously and avoid insecure websites or internet connections. It’s best to get antivirus software from a trusted vendor for your own convenience – Bitdefender is a veteran in cybersecurity and provides the best internet security for your PC, providing frequent updates to malware signatures, keeping you safe from all kinds of attacks.

Cybersecurity experts also acknowledge this potential and are already on course in developing encryptions that are quantum-proof or utilize quantum computing itself for stronger encryption solutions. Coupled with advanced machine learning technologies, this will enable the development of more robust security algorithms which will be able to predict as well as fend off cyber-attacks. Several existing security algorithms are immune to quantum decryption by design. 

So, to conclude until further advancements are made in quantum computing and potential security risks are identified, current security algorithms and security software are enough to keep your data secure.