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[Slashdot] - Will Quantum Computing Bring a Cryptopocalypse?


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"The waiting time for general purpose quantum computers is getting shorter, but they are still probably decades away," notes Security Week. But "The arrival of cryptanalytically-relevant quantum computers that will herald the cryptopocalypse will be much sooner — possibly less than a decade." It is important to note that all PKI-encrypted data that has already been harvested by adversaries is already lost. We can do nothing about the past; we can only attempt to protect the future.... [T]his is not a threat for the future — the threat exists today. Adversaries are known to be stealing and storing encrypted data with the knowledge that within a few years they will be able to access the raw data. This is known as the 'harvest now, decrypt later' threat. Intellectual property and commercial plans — not to mention military secrets — will still be valuable to adversaries when the cryptopocalypse happens. The one thing we can say with certainty is that it definitely won't happen in 2023 — probably. That probably comes from not knowing for certain what stage in the journey to quantum computing has been achieved by foreign nations or their intelligence agencies — and they're not likely to tell us. Nevertheless, it is assumed that nobody yet has a quantum computer powerful enough to run Shor's algorithm and crack PKI encryption in a meaningful timeframe. It is likely that such computers may become available as soon as three to five years. Most predictions suggest ten years. Note that a specialized quantum computer designed specifically for Shor does not need to be as powerful as a general-purpose quantum computer — which is more likely to be 20 to 30 years away.... "Quantum computing is not, yet, to the point of rendering conventional encryption useless, at least that we know of, but it is heading that way," comments Mike Parkin, senior technical engineer at Vulcan Cyber. Skip Sanzeri, co-founder and COO at QuSecure, warns that the threat to current encryption is not limited to quantum decryption. "New approaches are being developed promising the same post-quantum cybersecurity threats as a cryptographically relevant quantum computer, only much sooner," he said. "It is also believed that quantum advancements don't have to directly decrypt today's encryption. If they weaken it by suggesting or probabilistically finding some better seeds for a classical algorithm (like the sieve) and make that more efficient, that can result in a successful attack. And it's no stretch to predict, speaking of predictions, that people are going to find ways to hack our encryption that we don't even know about yet." Steve Weston, co-founder and CTO at Incrypteon, offers a possible illustration. "Where is the threat in 2023 and beyond?" he asks. "Is it the threat from quantum computers, or is the bigger threat from AI? An analysis of cryptoanalysis and code breaking over the last 40 years shows how AI is used now, and will be more so in the future." The article warns that "the coming cryptopocalypse requires organizations to transition from known quantum-vulnerable encryption (such as current PKI standards) to something that is at least quantum safe if not quantum secure." (The chief revenue officer at Quintessence Labs tells the site that symmetric encryption like AES-256 "is theorized to be quantum safe, but one can speculate that key sizes will soon double.") "The only quantum secure cryptography known is the one-time pad." Thanks to Slashdot reader wiredmikey for sharing the article.

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