When Mark Webber and his colleagues at the University of Sussex determined that a quantum processor that could crack the Bitcoin encryption would need 1.9 billion qubits, they estimated that this would take at least 10 years, offering Bitcoin core developers time to improve the code.
Research teams around the world are constantly working to improve the efficiency but also computing power of quantum computers, which are now a reality. At a time when most researchers were arguing for quantum computers to replace traditional computers, some researchers pointed out that even the most advanced encryption algorithms, like the SHA-256 used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, could be cracked using qubits. Mark Webber and the Ion Quantum Experience in working from the University of Sussex recently confirmed this realisation by calculating what something takes to change the Bitcoin encryption system and a rough estimate estimate of when that could happen.
Quantum Computer may crack the Bitcoin Encryption
The NSA in the United States developed the SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) cryptographic function cluster in the early 2000s. After the transaction is verified either by mining network, it is encrypted using the 256-bit version of encryption. Due to the miners’ validation of the distribution of bitcoin amounts from each block in relation to their participation to cracking the cryptographic key assigned to each transaction, this is also known as “proof-of-work consensus.” The majority of each block’s bitcoin reward goes to the first miner or group of miners to crack the key.
IBM’s fastest quantum computer, which has a processing power of 127 qubits, is still unable to crack the SHA-256 algorithm in a reasonable amount of time, according to Webber and his team. Even if the quantum computer can harness the power of 317 million qubits to reduce the time limit to around an hour, it will still be insufficient to fully crack the code. In the words of Webber, “the transactions got totally announced and there’s a key associated with such a transaction. This key is vulnerable for a limited period of time, which can range from 10 minutes to an hour or even a day. It takes a processor with 1.9 billion qubits to crack the code in 10 minutes.
It’s possible that we’ll see a cpu to millions of qubits in the next five years, but IBM believes it will take twice as long to reach billions of qubits. Despite the fact that the Bitcoin network is not currently under threat, core developers should consider improving the encryption program to make it quantum-resistant by both the end of this decade.
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