IBM Executives: Quantum Computing Poses an Imminent Threat to Cryptocurrencies

Quantum computing is slowly spreading in the digital world with IBM on the forefront with the launch of their quantum computers. It will disrupt the whole crypto world in the near future.

Photo: IBM Research / Flickr

Photo: IBM Research / Flickr

Quantum computing cases have held the limelight for a while now. As noted by commentators in 2018, the technology can render blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin useless. Quantum is against the fundamental principles of blockchain technology. The IBM executives discussed the possible threat it poses to blockchain technology.

Most of the IBM executives highlighted the threat quantum computing pose to blockchain cryptography and cryptocurrencies. Appearing at IBM Think 2019, the vice president of blockchain and digital currencies at IBM, Jesse Lund, said:

“It is reverse engineering the private keys which represent the control of your wallet. Your public key is essentially your wallet which holds balances. And I think that is a real, credible threat. Bitcoin is a public ledger.”

He added that users can determine which public keys hold the largest balances. Also, they can target those hundreds or thousands of bitcoin in these wallets. He is committed to:

“Spend effort (computing resource) to reverse engineer the private key from the public key, which is exposed. I think that’s even a near term threat.”

It was evident that one-day Quantum computers can reverse engineer a private key improvising a public key template. Thus, it makes almost all forms of public key cryptography considerably vulnerable. Lund thinks that 50% of all blockchains are susceptible. Moreover, this threat affects nearly all encrypted systems. The most affected include personal devices, communications, private databases, smart vehicles, and government databases.

Threat Mitigation

The highly-encrypted cryptographic codes make blockchain network much powerful and tamper-proof offering extensive security for its users. Breaking into these codes mean forging the digital signatures set for all items on the distributed ledger. The team at IBM released its first quantum computer at the beginning of the year as we noted earlier.

The team also acknowledged that the new technology would disrupt the crypto industry with various threats. To mitigate the threat of quantum computing against most of the cryptocurrencies, IBM advises organizations to start quantum proofing their systems promptly. The chief technology officer for IBM data security services, Nev Zunic, stated that coders should start addressing the quantum threat immediately. He explained:

“Companies need to be aware of quantum and the potential risk that it will bring so they can take actions today so that they are not hackable at some point in the life cycle of their products.”

Immediate Action is required

The Swiss manager of the security and privacy group at IBM Research, Michael Osborne, thinks that the new quantum era has come. He said that it now gradually puts a shelf life on the crypto that is in use currently. He also added:

“We do not have 30 years anymore, the risk is significantly high. The advantages in quantum computing will break things before that.”

IBM executives say that quantum computers will change the world for the better. Osborne said that blockchain technology may be at the highest risk in comparison to other technologies. Whether it happens sooner or later, the bottom line remains that it is real. The case against Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains vs. quantum computing is imminent.

Experts advise that the involved parties must not wait until there is a threat for them to act. They should migrate early enough with everything planned well in advance.

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