With the advent of mature quantum technologies, many of the critical cryptographic protocols which secure the Internet, financial transactions and even military secrets may become susceptible to new attack vectors. For instance, while it may take a computer millions of years to decipher a public key’s corresponding private key, a sufficiently powerful quantum computer might achieve this in a reasonable amount of time. With this reality looming over us, many in the blockchain space worry that someone with access to a quantum computer might one day have the ability to steal their hard-earned crypto.
We’re joined by Ajay Prakash and Gavin Brennen, founders of the Qubit Protocol, a decentralized blockchain-enabled governance protocol that is meant to select and fund the best startups in the quantum world. As a co-author of the recent paper “Quantum attacks on Bitcoin, and how to protect against them,” Gavin walks us through the primary threats that quantum computing poses on Bitcoin. Among the major vulnerabilities are hashing functions and Elliptic Curve algorithms used for digital signatures, both fundamental components of Bitcoin, as well as many other blockchain protocols.
Topics we discussed in this episode
- What are quantum technologies and how they differ from the existing paradigm
- The areas and industries which are to benefit most from quantum computing
- A refresher on hashing algorithms as one-way functions
- What a quantum attack on Bitcoin mining might look like
- How Elliptic Curve digital signature algorithms work and how public and private keys are generated
- The three types of attacks a quantum computer could perform digital signatures
- The expected timelines for these attacks to be viable
- The potential countermeasures which could circumvent quantum attacks on Bitcoin
- The Qubit Protocol as a DAO to fund quantum technology startups and the challenges of investing in the quantum space
- The project’s roadmap and upcoming ICO