Researchers from the University of Sussex have estimated the time it takes a quantum computer to crack Bitcoin’s algorithm. They discuss how the same cannot happen for owners in the blockchain and the future.
Quantum computers will one day solve the Bitcoin algorithm, and researchers are expressing serious concern about the future of crypto
Mark Webber, a PhD student at the University of Sussex and the Ion Quantum Technology Group, has studied the SHA-256 encoding algorithm introduced by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2001.
SHA-2 or Secure Hash Algorithm 2 is a cluster of cryptographic hash functions developed by the United States National Security Agency. There are six hash values under the SHA-2 process, with SHA-256 being one of the most well known due to its use in Bitcoin currency. The collection of hash functions combined using the Merkle-Damgård construction – a one-way compression function assembled from a specialized block cipher using the Davies-Meyer structure.
All bitcoin transactions must be verified by the crypto miners’ networks before they are added to the blockchain. This verification system tells the system who owns what amounts in the ledger. The transactions receive a designation with a cryptographic key during verification. If an individual or group cracks the code, it will allow access and ownership of the Bitcoin cluster.
According to Webber, the best device to crack the Bitcoin code is IBM’s supercomputer, which is considered to be the most powerful quantum computer available with 127 qubits (quantum bits). However, the quantum computer is still too small for what it would take to break the digital currency algorithm. Researchers discovered that a quantum computer using a staggering 317 million qubits would take more than an hour to break Bitcoin’s encryption. Unfortunately, processing a 10-minute encryption hack would require a quantum computer capable of processing 1.9 billion qubits of code.
The transactions are announced and there is a key associated with that transaction. There is a limited window of time when this key is vulnerable and this varies, but typically it’s around 10 minutes to an hour, maybe a day.
– Mark Weber
Webber and his colleagues are concerned about the future of Bitcoin. It is currently impossible to break the Bitcoin algorithm until an ultra-quantum computer is completed. A computer system of this size is almost a decade away from being developed.
We need to change our encryption techniques because they won’t be secure in the future.