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The Promise and Peril of Quantum Computing

April 29, 2020

As posted on Cyber Security Intelligence, there is a revolutionary development taking place that will transform computing but at the same time give criminals and hackers more power of disruption. This development is quantum computing.

Traditional computing bits are either 0 or 1, but quantum computing depends on properties of quantum physics called qubits, which can be in both states at the same time. Quantum computing can address problems that conventional computing cannot handle. Quantum computers are expected to be millions of times faster than existing devices and solve problems that conventional computers cannot calculate in a lifetime, or longer. Quantum computers do not yet exist on this scale but IBM, Google and Microsoft are among companies developing the technology. By performing multiple calculations at the same time, complex mathematical problems could be solved in seconds. This has applications for chemistry, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the Internet of Things.

As with most technological developments, there is great opportunity for misuse. Traditional digital encryption will become obsolete. According to the Thales Data Threat Report, 72% of security experts surveyed believe quantum computing power will affect data security technology within the next five years. Current security mechanisms will be vulnerable to new types of cyber attacks. Crypto-graphic patterns used in the Internet of Things can be broken. Many encryption logorithms may become ineffective.

If cyber criminals or malicious hackers gain access to quantum technology, they could disrupt almost every aspect of life from personal data to critical infrastructure. (If cyber security can be breached at will, cyber risk will become uninsurable.)

As computers become smarter and faster, more advanced encryption mechanisms are needed. Before this new technology is released, the problems must be recognized and solved.