SHOCKING! Quantum computing’s growth could leave Bitcoin blockchain vulnerable to hacks

Key Takeaways:

  • The growth of Quantum Computing posses a serious threat to Bitcoin's public key cryptography
  • Experts believe we are still long way off before such high-level quantum computers hit the markets
  • The crypto community is already working on transitioning to ‘post-quantum cryptography.
Quantum computing's growth poses a serious threat to the safe blockchains of today, including Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
Quantum computing threatens Bitcoin (BTC) and blockchain technology. Credit:  Pete Linforth via Pixabay

YEREVAN (CoinChapter.com) – Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies are safe today, thanks to digital encryption. However, quantum computing’s growth poses a serious threat to the safe blockchains of today.

According to a recent study by Deloitte, quantum computers can advance enough to break into Bitcoin’s encryption. As a result, “over 4 million BTC (about 25% of all Bitcoins) are potentially vulnerable to a quantum attack”. At today’s prices, that amounts to over $119 billion. 

Moreover, according to the study, there are an equal number of vulnerable coins in reused ‘pay to public key hash’ (p2pkh) addresses, which are otherwise considered safe.

Other protected data, including bank accounts and emails, will also become vulnerable to hackers. 

Quantum computing's growth poses a serious threat to the safe blockchains of today, including Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
The distribution of Bitcoins that are stored in addresses that are vulnerable to quantum attacks. Credit: Deloitte

At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2020, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent firm, Alphabet, sent out a worrying message.

 “Quantum computing will defeat encryption as we know it today in a 5 to 10-year time period,” 

he said.

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How does quantum computing’s growth pose a threat to Bitcoin? 

The security of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology lies in public-key cryptography. The technology is not unique to cryptos, however. Most online transactions and payment systems, including email address providers, rely on it. 

Bitcoin network uses a cryptographic algorithm called SHA-256. The technology helps ensure that only an intended recipient can see a particular data or transaction by combining public and private keys. 

However, quantum computing’s growth threatens this public-key cryptography. As a result, hackers can impersonate owners of digital assets like cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFT).

This causes a big risk to the reputation of the Bitcoin (BTC) network. 

“If [4 million] coins are eventually stolen in this way, then trust in the system will be lost and the value of Bitcoin will probably go to zero,

cybersecurity specialist Itan Barmes told Investment Monitor. 

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Don’t worry! Quantum computing won’t kill Bitcoin yet

While quantum computing’s growth is a reason to worry, there is no need to panic. The technology is too early, and blockchain will have ensured itself by the time it comes. 

It usually takes about 10 minutes to mine 6.25 Bitcoins. According to Sussex University scientist Mark Webber, the cryptographic key of each transaction on the Bitcoin network is typically vulnerable for 10 minutes. However, during network congestions, it can stretch up to an hour. 

As his team of researchers at the university claim, one would need a computer with a 1.9 billion qubit capacity to break Bitcoin’s encryption in the given period. 

In context, IBM’s 127-Qubit Eagle is the largest quantum computer in use today. So it is safe to say that we are miles away from hacking the Bitcoin network’s cryptography.

The crypto community is already working on transitioning to a new type of cryptography called ‘post-quantum cryptography. For example, the team behind the Ethereum network has included quantum security in the plans for ETH 3.0

Cardano is also working on making its network resistant to quantum attacks. During an ask-me-anything (AMA) session on his YouTube channel in April, founder Charles Hoskinson confirmed its features in his five-year plan. 

Suffice to say; people are not sitting with their hands folded, waiting for quantum computing to come and wreck us all. Yes, it is a potential threat and must be taken seriously. 

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Quantum Computing's growth, SHOCKING! Quantum computing’s growth could leave Bitcoin blockchain vulnerable to hacks

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