Skip to main content

The Future of Bitcoin is Threatened by Quantum Computers

By septiembre 7, 2022marzo 8th, 2023Crypto News


The sophisticated quantum computers required to meaningfully attack the Bitcoin network are still at least 5-10 years away. This gives enough time to the Bitcoin community to strengthen the protocol security and develop several quantum-resistant solutions that will help the network successfully tackle any threat from the emerging technology. It will leverage the higher processing speed to guess the correct cryptography key, continually breaching the security of the underlying network. Should quantum computers become efficient at breaking some of the leading cryptography standards today, such as RSA, almost every major information technology service provider will be affected as they become susceptible to outside cyber-attacks. Besides Google, companies such as International Business Machines Corp., D-Wave Systems Inc., and Honeywell International Inc. are actively investing billions of dollars in this nascent technology. In the financial industry, Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. and automobiles firm Volkswagen are also experimenting with quantum computing.

The consensus has generally been that a sufficiently powerful quantum computer will have the capacity to easily break the cryptographic keys used to secure cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The world’s top superpowers are pouring billions of dollars into the development of this technology—and for good reason. The first nation or company to harness quantum computing will be poised to crack the encryption protecting rivals’ sensitive documents. At this stage, there are just too many unknowns to make bold predictions about quantum computers slaying Bitcoin.

Get the latest news

Quantum computers are expected to kickstart a new wave of innovation in the field of data and predictive analytics as it facilitates the processing of numerous transactions at once. Of course, it’s all just theoretical, as quantum computers are far from being commercially available. But apparently, the kind of heavy lifting that is now required of Bitcoin mining farms across the globe becomes only a minor chore if you can do a set-up properly. We’re probably still far away from the author’s vision for Bitcoin and quantum computing, but luckily you can tide yourself over with the fine piece containing all the wild ideas he shared. The scenario described above is the main reason why avoiding address reuse without changing to a different encryption algorithm isn’t a foolproof solution long-term. That being said, the threat of quantum computers is not immediate and Bitcoin developers have lots of time to think about ways to mitigate possible vulnerabilities.

Bitcoin Security Could Be Vulnerable to New Quantum Computers in … – BeInCrypto

Bitcoin Security Could Be Vulnerable to New Quantum Computers in ….

Posted: Fri, 14 Oct 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

We’d logically assume that the technology would be widely available so there would be no competitive advantage. The fear of quantum computers in relation to Bitcoin is that they take brute force attacks to a whole new level, attacking the way signatures are applied to spend bitcoin. Quantum computers aren’t constrained by binary processing, where something is either a 1 or 0.

Could Quantum Computers Defeat Bitcoin? Not So Fast.

I started writing PC-related articles for Softpedia and a few blogs back in 2006. I joined the Notebookcheck team in the summer of 2017 and am currently a senior tech writer mostly covering processor, GPU, and laptop news. The USD cost of performing a 51 percent attack on the Bitcoin network in October 2021 was estimated to be more than $13 billion. We can assume that the Bitcoin network is sufficiently strong to withstand any major attack orchestrated by an outside entity. Bitcoin started out fairly simple–although it was always backed with sophisticated, high-level maths. On the most basic level, Bitcoin, the decentralized currency, exists alongside the blockchain thanks to the Bitcoin mining algorithm.

With the use of quantum mechanical phenomena, this type of computing could have applications that you’ve never even imagined. Fortunately, there are many people in the field of quantum computing that have put their minds to it and thought of all sorts of ways that things might change with the advent of quantum computers. Even if a quantum computer mined merely 2016 blocks, in theory this would raise the difficulty so high that regular mining equipment would take an impossibly long time to create another 2016 blocks and reduce difficulty. Of course, no one has tested whether such a difficulty level would be possible.

It all comes down to a hugely limiting factor known as “quantum noise.” The term refers to any type of subtle environmental change that can affect the performance of a qubit. In fact, the most minor of vibrations or fluctuations in temperate or electromagnetic waves can cause something known as “decoherence,” rendering qubits unable to perform a single calculation. The problem becomes increasingly more persistent the more qubits are involved. “The algorithmic speed-up is unlikely to make up for the considerably slower clock cycle times relative to state of the art classical computing for the foreseeable future,” according to the paper. In recent years, there have been growing fears these superior computers could eventually be directed at crunching crypto mining computations required to generate new blocks. A quantum computer works differently from modern computers; it stores data in “qubits” instead of bits.

If a quantum computer were used to 51% attack the Bitcoin network, what it would actually be doing is trying to break the underlying hash algorithm used in bitcoin mining, SHA-256. So quantum computers being added to the mix won’t suddenly render classical modes of encryption useless or mining trivial — “quantum supremacy” now doesn’t mean that your encryption or the security of bitcoin is at risk right at this moment. For cryptocurrencies, a fork in the future that might affect large parts of the chain, but it will be somewhat predictable — there is a lot of thought being placed on post-quantum encryption technology. Bitcoin would not be one of the first planks to fall if classical encryption were suddenly broken for a number of reasons. Yet, a soft fork might be enough to help move crypto-assets from suddenly insecure keys to secure post-quantum encryption.

computing power

Quantum computing is on its path to eventually decrypting much of today’s encrypted data, ringing alarm bells among tech-skeptics who advocate individual privacy and personal data safety. According to a report by Deloitte, quantum computing is poised to break Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies’ signing algorithms which could render all digital assets obsolete with no utility. The ETC level of truth in the report is a matter that requires deep study and analysis. In the following few sections, we will attempt to answer similar questions and eventually clear some misconceptions about quantum computing’s so-called supposed threat to the Bitcoin network. Quantum security is seen as a major issue in the blockchain and crypto sector and it is widely believed that powerful quantum computers will one day become advanced enough to hack current cryptography. That could result in the theft of billions of dollars worth of digital assets or bring blockchain tech to a grinding halt.

Symmetric & Asymmetric Cryptographic Algorithms

Quantum computing is a technology that exploits the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems that would otherwise be too complex for classical computers. Quantum computers operate differently from classic computers, whose logic relies on Boolean algebra consisting of only two numbers, one and zero, that respectively represent ‘on’ or ‘off’ states in resistors. Quantum leaps in computing could enable miners to solve the puzzle in a fraction of the time currently taken, but this is unlikely to endanger the network.

The most common variation of 128 could be cracked by quantum computers and even classic attackers. However the AES 256 variation, featuring twice the amount of keys, appears strong enough to fend off brute force attacks by quantum machines for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, the ability to deploy quantum computers with so many qubits still seems many years away. IBM unveiled its 127-qubit processor just last year, while a unit sporting 1,000 qubits is set to be completed by the end of 2023.

Can Bitcoin survive quantum computing?

The SHA-256 cryptographic protocol used for Bitcoin network security is currently unbreakable by today's computers. However, experts anticipate that within a decade, quantum computing will be able to break existing encryption protocols.

The researchers estimate that a quantum computer with 1.9 billion qubits would be necessary to crack a Bitcoin’s encryption within 10 minutes. To manage the feat within an hour, a machine with 317 million qubits would be required. But in reality it is impossible to implement the Grover algorithm only on the nonce register without additional transformations. And the thing is that we actively confuse the qubits from the nonce register with the hash register bits during the calculation.

What Is Quantum Computing?

And this means that the simple application of the Grover algorithm in our case is impossible. We see that with the help of quantum computers, the class of problems is solved more efficiently than in classical calculators, in which it is necessary to find a state that, after transformations over it, will yield a result satisfying predetermined criteria. In the paper we propose a quantum empowering of this technology and show how to speed-up the mining procedure using the modified Grover’s algorithm. «here is little doubt that the power of quantum computing could be used to ‘crack’ current encryption methods,» William Hurley, the chair of the Quantum Computing Standards Workgroup of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers , told Futurism. Quantum computing skeptics argue that emerging technology could do more bad than good for society if it is not appropriately regulated. Quantum computing’s potential to disrupt industries can be used for nefarious purposes such as spying, could quantum computers mine bitcoin corporate espionage, comprising a nation state’s cybersecurity, and so on.

Britcoin escalates the war between governments and crypto – Al Arabiya English

Britcoin escalates the war between governments and crypto.

Posted: Wed, 22 Feb 2023 09:45:00 GMT [source]

To sum up, the hashrate is critical to the Bitcoin network’s overall strength. The higher the number of machines used by honest miners to mine BTC and add a new block to the Bitcoin network, the higher the hashrate rises, making it all the more difficult for malicious agents to attack the Bitcoin network. In a recent piece for Hacker Noon, author and entrepreneur Riz Virk shared his ideas for using a quantum computer to completely corner the Bitcoin mining market. In several hundred words, he goes from science fiction to something that almost sounds like Eastern Mysticism in trying to describe the impact of using a quantum computer when it comes to Bitcoin mining. The point is that a quantum computer breaking SHA-256 would have huge implications throughout the digital world, not just with Bitcoin. Government agencies, financial institutions, and large online retailers, among others, would be facing a similar situation as Bitcoiners.


could quantum computers mine bitcoining this code is essentially impossible for ordinary computers, but quantum computers, which can exploit the properties of quantum physics to speed up some calculations, could theoretically crack it open. Breaking this form of encryption would mean a person could ascertain someone’s private key from that person’s public key, which is freely broadcasted to the entire network each time that wallet makes a transaction. Accessing a private key is like identifying a person’s password and would give the attacker complete control over any funds held in the wallet address. The relationship between the private and public keys generated by a user, and in particular the direction, is also key in understanding how quantum computing may constitute a threat. While the public key is easily generated from the private key, the same does not apply to vice versa.

  • The classical circuit computes all the hash values for the right children along the Merkle tree’s left leg.
  • A French team cracked a 795-bit key in 2019 (that’s 232 decimals) and it is rumoured that Chinese government engineers have broken a 1024-bit key, which means RSA keys must now be 4096 or even 8192 bits in length to be confidentally secure.
  • The miner or group of miners who succeeds in cracking the key first claims the majority of the bitcoin rewarded per block.
  • Checking qubits for errors can potentially disrupt their state or superposition, skewing results.
  • Quantum computers aren’t constrained by binary processing, where something is either a 1 or 0.

But the same task is also for the classic miner – the PoW consensus presupposes the presence of a certain lower threshold for the value of hash! In the classical case, this allows us to adjust the time of mining of one block. A practical example is a pilot implementation of a quantum miner with 3 qubits of nonce and 8 qubits hash. «It’s easy to romanticize quantum computing. And while the technology is closer than you think, it’s not magic,» said Hurley.

This is largely due to the fact that elliptic curves are correspondingly harder to crack than RSA from classical computers. There have been, however, a number of advancements in quantum error correction, namely something called the Bacon-Shor code developed by physicist Christopher Monroe and a number of researchers from the University of Maryland. But again, this type of error correction is estimated to require a quantum computer boasting at least 1,300 qubits – more than 10 times the number of qubits present in IBM’s Eagle processor. Unlike with classical computers, it’s incredibly difficult to remove errors when performing calculations on a quantum computer because of the linear nature of quantum computations. Checking qubits for errors can potentially disrupt their state or superposition, skewing results.

Will quantum computers break ethereum?

Ethereum 2.0 Will be Quantum Resistant

In the Ethereum 2.0 Serenity upgrade, accounts will be able to specify their own scheme for validating transactions, including the option to switch to a quantum-safe signature scheme.

The key takeaway is that working quantum computers exist and are opening up a completely new realm of computational capability. Including the potential to crack algorithms, like SHA 256, that were previously thought to be unbreakable. A public key can be quickly generated from a private one, but going the other way is virtually impossible. A classical computer would have to perform up to 2128—about 340 billion billion quadrillion—calculations over billions of years to discover the private key that matches your Bitcoin public key. In the not-too-distant future, quantum computers will become so powerful that they could theoretically wreak havoc on the world’s financial system generally, and cryptocurrency specifically. Condensed matter theory physicist and quantum information expert Sankar Das Sarma has argued in MIT Technology Review that quantum computers remain a very long way away from cracking RSA-based cryptography.

We use the oracle function to calculate that hash value that is below a certain threshold. But there are exactly as many kobits as there are zeros ahead of the hash value, and only one inverted is a functional one. Rootstock is the most secure smart contract network in the world and enables decentralized applications secured by the Bitcoin Network to empower people and improve the quality of life of millions. A back-of-the-envelope calculation in a Medium blog, shows how the production of 10-minute blocks was calculated for the raw power of Sycamore. The estimation suggested that the quantum computer could mine all remaining 3 million BTC in the blink of an eye. SHA-256 «puzzle friendliness»In the case of a quantum computer, it is actually possible in theory to narrow down the vast search space of random inputs, to the point where it would take quadratically fewer hashes than is needed by a typical miner.

While blockchain upgrades are extremely rare due to disagreements from independent miners/validators, quantum resistance will be a matter of life or death for blockchain technology. There is no rational excuse for any miner/validator to refuse a quantum resistance upgrade when the threat of a quantum attack becomes plausible. With the rise of quantum computers, one of the biggest concerns in the blockchain is their alleged ability to break cryptographic encryption algorithms, allowing them to rip apart the security that blockchains were designed to provide. Much of the internet is built on cryptographic algorithms that even the world’s fastest supercomputers cannot break , but a sufficiently powerful quantum computer could crack all of it in moments. Because quantum computers could one day crack the cryptography that provides protection to crypto wallets, they are viewed as a looming existential threat.

And this practically coincides with the current level of complexity of the bitcoin network! Hence we get that we need 48 qubits for nonce and 256 qubits for the hash value to implement the complexity threshold of the bitcoin network. Clearly, that it will be interesting to check out what opportunities can quantum computation theory and quantum technology give to the blockchain technology. For instance, there were several proposals on empowering Bitcoin Electronic Cash System with quantum technologies (see, e.g. ), as well as on possible attacks on this system . Quantum computers could potentially become so powerful they require their own kind of cryptography, but that doesn’t mean Bitcoin and today’s encryption methods must be scrapped entirely.


Author Jameson

More posts by Jameson

Leave a Reply