Modern encryption relies on algorithms that are difficult to “break.” But quantum computers could potentially render these methods obsolete.

Quantum computing can tackle difficult mathematical problems at an unprecedented speed, leaving existing encryption techniques exposed and vulnerable to attack. CISOs should take proactive steps now by conducting an audit of their cryptographic landscape and devising plans to move towards post-quantum standards.

## Superposition

As quantum computing advances, so too do our means of protecting data. Traditional computers encode information using binary digits (zeroes and ones), but quantum computers use qubits – microstates capable of existing in multiple states simultaneously thanks to superposition – which make up the foundation of quantum computing and allow exponentially faster calculations than classical computers.

To understand how a qubit works, imagine an experiment in which two photons are sent through a screen with holes or slits in it, with each position producing different interference patterns that result in bright lines of light on either side of the screen – something quantum physics explains through superposition.

Superposition in cryptography allows quantum computers to decipher encrypted messages that would be impossible for traditional computers to crack. While current encryption standards rely on people having limited computing power to try all possible strategies for de-scrambling encrypted data, a mature quantum computer could quickly test all possibilities within hours.

Quantum computing presents both threats to existing encryption systems as well as solutions that can protect our privacy and sensitive data. Researchers are creating quantum-safe encryption algorithms to protect personal information as well as prevent the collapse of financial systems or social trust networks.

Quantum computers take advantage of superposition and entanglement principles to process information exponentially faster than classical computers, making them useful in various tasks such as drug discovery or optimizing large logistics operations.

Quantum computers use exponentially greater processing power compared to classical computers by manipulating over two billion qubits at once, offering exponentially better performance.

Quantum computers may still be at their infancy, but eventually their power will reach criminals who can use it to acquire large quantities of sensitive data and sell it for profit. Criminals might store encrypted files now with hopes that one day quantum computers may decrypt them for use in espionage, blackmail or sale; similar to cryogenically freezing dead bodies after death, data thieves will wait until more powerful computers can decrypt their own stolen files before selling or using them themselves.

## Multidimensional computational spaces

Quantum computers employ quantum bits (qubits) to perform calculations that would take classical computers exponentially longer, using superposition and entanglement principles that allow qubits to exist simultaneously in multiple states – giving quantum computers enormous computing power that surpasses anything possible with traditional computers.

Quantum computing holds enormous implications for data security, placing privacy and cybersecurity at greater risk than ever before. While it remains largely theoretical today, investments and start-ups devoted to quantum computing continue to pour in; its potential to transform areas like medical research, financial modeling, AI etc that rely heavily on large amounts of data is expected.

One of the major effects will be in cryptography, the field that uses mathematical algorithms to encode data so only authorized parties can read it. Most commonly, this data is secured using RSA encryption based on factoring large numbers – yet scalable quantum computers could potentially use cracking techniques such as that developed by mathematician Peter Shor in 1994 to breach it and cause serious security threats. Quantum computers may even solve this problem more quickly than conventional ones!

Quantum computers’ ability to identify hidden patterns in large datasets – known as data mining – presents another threat to current encryption systems. While such technology could prove beneficial for businesses, malicious actors could exploit it and steal sensitive information without anyone knowing about it. It’s critical that sensitive information be secured using modern cryptography solutions.

Quantum computing may bring numerous advantages, yet it also poses an immense threat to cyber-security – particularly public key cryptography, which relies on factoring large prime numbers to create unbreakable encrypted keys that protect from eavesdroppers and hackers. Unfortunately, high-powered quantum computers will likely only be accessible by large government agencies due to their prohibitively expensive nature and limited power capabilities.

Good news is that industry efforts are underway to create quantum-resistant algorithms, which should be ready when viable quantum computers hit the market. The main challenge will be making sure they remain protected against quantum noise – which disrupts superposition and entanglement processes – as this may compromise security measures.

## Integer factorization

Quantum computing is revolutionizing cryptography in fundamental ways, from breaking current encryption techniques that protect sensitive data to creating more secure algorithms – creating “post-quantum cryptography” (PQC), an emerging form of statistics security yet uncharted territory.

Modern encryption techniques use mathematical algorithms that are extremely difficult to “break.” Even supercomputers would take years just brute forcing such an algorithm with suitable key lengths; however, quantum computers could potentially solve this issue much more rapidly due to using quantum mechanics principles to perform computations more rapidly than regular computers.

Shor’s algorithm for factorizing large numbers into smaller ones is at risk due to quantum computers; using their quantum properties of atoms and quarks for parallel calculations speeds up this process by up to 21x faster calculations.

As researchers create quantum computers, they are testing various experimental algorithms to see which can work the best. Some are more practical than others and use less qubits; all can perform exponentially more calculations than classical computers.

Quantum computing may still be in its infancy, but it’s rapidly growing in popularity. Many companies and research organizations are racing to build quantum computers capable of performing useful tasks; some are targeting offensive cyber operations while others develop quantum computers for defensive applications.

As quantum computing continues to advance, so too does the need for standardised cryptography. NIST has taken an innovative step by organizing a competition to find and standardize quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms. It focuses on designing cryptography capable of withstanding attacks by quantum computers (including “post-quantum”) algorithms; more advanced these technologies become, the greater their protection will be against both classical and quantum threats.

## Quantum key distribution

Safeguarding sensitive data has never been harder, with more data stored and transmitted across public and private networks than ever. Public key cryptography encrypts this data using both an encryption key and its recipient’s public key; but quantum computers could drastically cut down the time needed to break public key encryption from decades to minutes.

Researchers have developed new forms of cryptography based on quantum physics principles to combat this threat, with quantum key distribution (QKD) providing one such technique. Encrypted users can encode and transmit keys using quantum states, typically photons. Any third party attempting to intercept these states will invariably disrupt them; users can then use this property of quantum states to detect any attempts at eavesdropping attempts and keep secure communications channels open.

Scientists have pioneered various QKD methods, with the National Institute of Standards and Technology at Commerce Department setting an all-time record in unbreakable encryption over optical fiber. The team at NIST used individual photons in different orientations to generate continuous binary code keys used to encrypt information.

NIST’s system generated this key at an incredible speed of over 4 million bits per second over 1 kilometer of optical fiber – twice faster than its previous record set last month! According to lead physicist Xiao Tang, this technique may allow high-speed QKD over long distances between countries.

Step one in creating quantum-secure cryptography involves determining what algorithms work best with quantum computers and implementing them on devices capable of running them. This may require physical modifications to laptops, phones and other devices capable of wireless networking or changing existing security protocols to accommodate for new algorithms; NIST currently aims to identify and standardize quantum-resistant practices.