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Are we underestimating the threat of quantum computing?

Having spent the day looking at the current state of the quantum computer industry, I am left with a feeling that Bitcoin and other blockchains seem dangerously unprepared for the possible disintegration of RSA encryption. (Which means private keys will mean nothing and bitcoin can be distributed freely by anyone with access to such computing power.)

As far as I can tell, the only ledger that deals with this head on is QRL (Quantum Resistant Ledger,) otherwise it seems to be a ridiculed non-issue for most hodlers.

The answers I have gotten for asking this is usually something along the lines of:

“Quantum computing is like cold fusion; the technology of the future that never actually happens.” I disagree. [https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/tech-forward/the-current-state-of-quantum-computing-between-hype-and-revolution](https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/tech-forward/the-current-state-of-quantum-computing-between-hype-and-revolution)

“If RSA Encryption breaks, Bitcoin will be the last of our problems.” I disagree, bitcoin seems like a great target to take advantage of without destroying the world.

“Someone is already working on this threat, dont worry about it, it will be fixed, just hodl, buy the dip etc etc” Who? What exactly is being done?

“Its just FUD, leave me alone.” Ok, fine, I will ask someone who actually thinks about this instead.

Is there any documentation of what is *actually* being done to prepare bitcoin (and others) for the seemingly inevitable destruction of RSA encryption?

Edit: forgot to add the link I actually meant to post: [https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/05/30/65724/how-a-quantum-computer-could-break-2048-bit-rsa-encryption-in-8-hours/](https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/05/30/65724/how-a-quantum-computer-could-break-2048-bit-rsa-encryption-in-8-hours/)



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27 Comments

  1. Isn’t this a P != NP problem? With quantum computing comes quantum cryptography. If we have better technologies to decrypt things like private keys we should also have better technologies to encrypt them in the first place, encryption can always be made easier than decryption. (Not an expert in the field by any stretch of the imagination)

  2. Luckily Satoshi solved this by not reusing addresses. You can’t crack RSA if you only have one half of the equation. Once the hash of the private key is exposed in a transaction, a new address is used for the change. This new address has no private key hash to crack. You can’t break what you don’t have.

    And yes, quantum encryption is being worked on by many security researchers. It doesn’t have to be bitcoin specific. Any next gen security protocols could be added to the bitcoin blockchain in the future as needed.

  3. No, we are not underestimating quantum cryptography. This topic is a dead horse that has been beaten so many times, just Google it and DYOR. **Bitcoin is perfectly safe and the small threats from QC are well understood.**

    1. Grover’s algorithm **proves** it is the most efficient solution, thus the best quantum algorithm is already known (and provably known).
    2. Symmetrical cryptography is not susceptible to quantum attacks beyond Grover’s, and Grover’s is an expensive and poor attack against symmetrical cryptography.
    3. There are so many good solutions to quantum computing such as lattice-based asymmetrical cryptography.
    4. Quantum computing is theoretical: No one has made a real quantum computer yet, they have just emulated small portions of them to run theoretical tests. IE: a few dozen gates for 1/1,000,000th of a second. In order to crack even tiny RSA encryption a quantum computer would need millions of gates that are stable and noise free for several hours or days.

    #Do your own research:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-quantum_cryptography

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lattice-based_cryptography

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover%27s_algorithm

    https://www.reddit.com/r/crypto/comments/di85ee/how_to_factor_2048_bit_rsa_integers_in_8_hours/

    https://www.reddit.com/r/crypto/comments/bsefr9/how_to_factor_2048_bit_rsa_integers_in_8_hours/

    **The best attack against 2048-bit RSA is only theoretical, is not peer-reviewed, and the results have never been reproduced or proven. And even that attack requires an impossible amount of gates (20 million) that are noise-free for an impossible amount of time (8 hours).**

  4. Quantum computing isn’t even at the point where general computing was in 1950. Unless there is some giant breakthrough, a quantum computer capable of breaking Bitcoin public keys is still decades away.

    And if there was some giant breakthrough, it would still take years before an attack was possible, and only on addresses with exposed public keys.

  5. Encryption algorithms that are quantum resistant have existed for a long time (have a look at nist pqc if you want to look at some good ones). These are cryptographic algorithms similar to RSA, they can be run on ordinary computers and differ in that they are not vulnerable to attacks by quantum computers. When the time comes, I expect bitcoin to add a new type of address or something that uses this new encryption instead (Im not familiar enough to tell you the details). Most devices will be able to support them with a software update. But I think its very unlikely that quantum computing does not keep progressing in small increments at a time so I personally think its a good idea to let PQC mature rather than rush its implementation into bitcoin.

  6. > “Someone is already working on this threat, dont worry about it, it will be fixed, just hodl, buy the dip etc etc” Who? What exactly is being done?

    I’d generally state this more accurately as:

    > “Bitcoin can always fork to a new signing algorithm like [sect571k1](https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/jd3f3c/thoughts_on_using_sect571k1_as_a_emergency_break/) whenever QC gets ‘close’. It can fork to larger and larger signatures indefinitely”

    As far as “who’s working on it”, Hal Finney and Satoshi talked about it back in 2010. Not sect571k1, but one of the smaller EC algorithms covered by the SEC spec. It is an agreeably shitty solution, but it is a stop-gap that too few people stop and do the actual math on. It is undoutably harder for any given QC to factor `sect571k1` when compared to `secp256k1`. It expands the field from 3072 equivalency to 15360 equivalency. This would be like moving from 1024 bit RSA to 5120 RSA

  7. The NIST competition is still on going. Recently a flaw was discovered in Rainbow, a round 3 cipher. Switching to post-quantum now, risks an insecure post-quantum system being used.

  8. Bitcoin is already quantum resistant:

    1. All current Bitcoin addresses are hashes. Even if there was a hypothetical quantum computer that could crack RSA they can’t reverse the hash function.
    2. Your public key is only revealed when you broadcast a transaction to spend it. Then a hypothetical attacker would need to identify your transaction, and crack it before it’s confirmed by the network, then rebroadcast a competing transaction. So as long as the value of your transaction is less than the cost to attack, you should be fine.
    3. There is a 50 billion dollar canary in our gold mine. The coins that Satoshi mined were sent to a public key instead of a hash. Don’t worry until they move.

  9. Read your link: its still vaporware:

    > Currently, a multitude of quantum-computing use cases [] are being investigated worldwide.

    so there isnt a single actual **use** of quantum computing yet, but there are “investigations”.

    People also investigate “ancient aliens” “urban myths” and “religious folklore”, and all of those have more uses than quantum computing so far.

    Perhaps you are getting all worked up over nothing ?

    > As far as I can tell, the only ledger that deals with this head on is QRL

    Shitcoins are meaningless. If real quantum resistance ever matters, which I doubt, bitcoin will have it the next day.

    > “If RSA Encryption breaks, Bitcoin will be the last of our problems.” I disagree, bitcoin seems like a great target to take advantage of without destroying the world.

    Well first of all bitcoin doesnt use RSA, perhaps you mean ECDSA. Second of all, being able to break into and destroy every computer on the planet, while not being able to do much to bitcoin except in some corner cases involving address reuse suggests that perhaps bitcoin really would be the last of our problems.

  10. Click on the LOCK icon of your browserGo to the Secturity tab and you find following

    **Signature Algorithm SHA-256 with RSA Encryption**

    ​

    Yeah, thats what encrypts your communication , infact all online banking or any website for that matter.

    Those are multi trillion dollar industries.

    Edit: Also, if my gandma had wheels she would be a bicycle.

  11. No. We are dangerously over estimating quantum computing. People hear the word quantum and think it means magic. It does not. Most people cannot grasp what quantum computing actually is and what it will do.

    We study billionaires investors podcast has an interview yesterday on an expert in the quantum field and how it relates to bitcoin.

    Stop spreading fud about the word quantum. It’s just a word that 99 percent of people do not understand and so assume it’s magic.

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