Quantum experts team up to secure cryptocurency
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be vulnerable to attacks by quantum computers in as little as 10 years, says a team of researchers proposing measures to improve digital currency security.
The research team from Sydney and Singapore has produced a white paper, Quantum attacks on Bitcoin and how to protect against them, that describes how digital currencies could become vulnerable to attack, with disastrous effect if thieves equipped with quantum computers steal funds without detection.
The potential is that trust in this growing market – estimated to be worth $US150 billion today – could erode rapidly as a result.
“Many existing Bitcoin accounts and all new transactions will be at risk within 10 years, so we need to start thinking about solutions now,” says Dr Marco Tomamichel from the Centre for Quantum Software and Information (QSI) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
Dr Tomamichel is part of the new Quantum Resistant Coin (QRC) group of researchers applying their knowledge of quantum technologies and cryptography to the security of digital currencies, in partnership with blockchain company Hyperchain.
The other members of the group are Associate Professor Gavin Brennen at Macquarie University, Professor Miklos Santha at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT Singapore), and Associate Professor Troy Lee from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
The QRC team has considered the point at which quantum computers could potentially jeopardise the security of current cryptocurrencies, and have assessed counter-measures to such attacks.
They also assess the risk of quantum-dominated mining in so-called Proof of Work protocols, which are the basis for verifying transactions in Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies.
“It is a very exciting time to be working in quantum information now that simple quantum machines, like the Google and IBM devices, are a reality,” says Dr Tomamichel.
“Understandably, there is a lot of nervousness in cryptocurrency communities about whether their digital assets can resist future attacks by very fast quantum computers.”
QRC has been appointed as a technical advisor to Hyperchain, which provides technical services to Hcash (CoinMarketCap.com Hshare with a market capitalisation of more than $US300 million) and will work with Hcash, Hshare and Hyperchain to ensure their cryptocurrency can resist quantum attacks.
“Our service is providing advice and algorithmic protocols to digital currencies and blockchains like Hcash which want to certify their product will be quantum safe. HCash has put a strong emphasis on quantum security from the outset so this collaboration will benefit both teams, and customer confidence,” he says.
The paper is available here.
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News coverage of the press release can be found below.