The U.S. government has announced four design and testing standards for cracking encryption in the “post-quantum era” on Tuesday. Scientists have long pointed out that, over time, advanced quantum computers will deal a downscale blow to mainstream encryption technologies. In light of this, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has specifically overseen related quantum data protection efforts.
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Of the four technologies chosen by NIST, two are expected to play a broader role. The first is Crystals-Kyber, which is designed to be built to share the keys needed to encrypt data between two computers.
The second is Crystals-Dilithium, which is used to sign encrypted data to determine exactly who sent it. We may have to wait two years, however, until the relevant standardized technology is integrated into today’s hardware and software platforms.
It is important to note that both of these and Falcon are lattice-based algorithms, and the NSA has plans to transition to such encryption solutions.
As for the fourth Sphince+ option, it is considered the most powerful digital signature solution that is not lattice-based.
As a ‘spear and shield’ for attacks, quantum computers still need to undergo years of steady development before they can create machines powerful enough and reliable enough to break encryption.
But in any case, an encryption defense strategy developed in advance is always a more prudent route than mending the fold.
After all, it often takes years to find new encryption methods, secure them, and roll them out.
On the other hand, even if the current encrypted data has not yet been cracked, hackers can still keep the sensitive information they collect now and hope to crack the parts that are still valuable at some point in the future.
Duncan Jones, head of cybersecurity at Quantinuum, a maker of software and hardware for quantum computers, said.
The industry generally agrees that a 10-15 year timescale is needed to defend against attacks, but because of the possibility of ‘get there first, decrypt later’, the attacks may already be being planned in secret.
Finally, advanced quantum computers of the future could also have an equally powerful and devastating impact on cryptocurrencies.