Is Quantum Computing Threatening Blockchains?

IBM Q System One

Quantum Computing and Blockchains, Explained in 60 Seconds

  1. Cryptocurrencies, the most popular blockchain application, relies on private key encryption for secure transaction. For example, Annie wants to spend 10 bitcoins. She can do so by accessing her digital wallet with her private key (any random series of 256 bits number). The private key is only known to Annie, and she can use it to generate a public key with the Elliptical Curve Digital Signature Algorithm. The public key is known to anyone on the blockchains and is used to verify that Annie’s transaction information is not tempered during the transaction, (for example changing 10 bitcoins to 20). The important thing here to note is that because ECDSA is not easily reversible, one cannot guess Annie’s private key from her public key. The generation of the public key from the private key is a one-way street.
  2. Transaction information is not written on blockchains in plain binary codes. They are instead subject to hash functions, which take data of any length and give back a value of finite length, aka, a hash value. This process is called “hashing”, and it is used not just in blockchains but in almost all information security scenarios such as verifying the integrity of messages or generating digital signatures. One of the biggest advantages of the hash function is that if a small change is made to the original file, the hash value would change dramatically. Transaction information stored on blockchains is usually hashed several times, so to make any change to that information would mean to go back and change every hash value generated along the way. The computation cost is simply so high that it is unrealistic to temper the information.

The Long Existing Tension Between Machines and Mathematics

Increasing computing power v.s. Encryption technology based on difficult-to-solve math problems

Quantum Computing V.S. Private Key Encryption

Report on Post-Quantum Cryptography, NIST, 2016

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Certified paradigm shift identifier because I read Kuhn thrice; History and Philosophy of Mathematics @UChicago

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Celia Wan

Celia Wan

Certified paradigm shift identifier because I read Kuhn thrice; History and Philosophy of Mathematics @UChicago

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