On September 20, Google claimed that they have made it to quantum supremacy, which would show that quantum computers can indeed solve more complex mathematical problems than a traditional computer. The paper reporting these findings was uploaded to NASA.gov and then removed.
So how does this effect our cybersecurity? Traditional computers could never be capable of solving the complex math problems known as encryption or cryptography that protect our information. This makes hacking them nearly impossible, but a quantum computer could solve these equations in a relatively short period of time.
Quantum computers differ from traditional computers that run off of a binary system that records data in a series of 1’s and 0’s. These super computers can categorize data as 1’s, 0’s, or as a quantum superstition of these two.
The system itself wants to be in a single state, not working within multiple at once. For this reason, it will always want to condense to a single state. This is called quantum decoherence.
In order to get the system to maintain working on multiple problems at once, you must employ an understanding on nanotechnology, quantum electronics, superconductors, and other extremely complex subject areas.
Quantum computing could be used to show complex chemical reactions that could aid with advances in chemistry, show high-level financial models, help us predict weather and climate changes more accurately, run AI programs with greater complexity, solve advanced problems in physics, break current cryptographic algorithms, as well as introduce the idea of cryptosystems.
So does this mean that our information is at immediate risk? The answer seems to be no.
For starters, the U.S.’s Institute for Science and Technology has been working on algorithms that can be used for security purposes that are resistant to quantum computers for years and they have five so far that may be feasible.
This finding has also sparked discussion on Twitter, and users are weighing in on this issue.
The general consensus from the cybersecurity community seems to be that although this is a major step in the right direction for this technology, it is still a very small one with a long way to go before we see any real potential for security-related problems or even any benefits from this technology overall.