This article explains quantum computing and blockchain in detail

Will quantum computing disrupt blockchain or make it more secure?

When it comes to the future of computing, blockchain and quantum computing are two of the most fascinating and controversial industries. While blockchain is far more advanced in its practical applications — including the creation of cryptocurrencies and cryptography that both individuals and businesses can use — the quantum computing industry is also growing at an alarming rate. In fact, the industry growth rate of quantum computing may be second only to blockchain, with the industry expected to grow at an annual rate of 25% from 2022 to 2027.

Some experts believe that advances in quantum computing could be the beginning of the end for blockchains; as quantum computers can crack the encryption of even the most advanced blockchains. Alternatively, quantum computers could in some ways replace blockchain as a more advanced way to secure the future of data.

In some ways, blockchain encryption and quantum computing are locked in a race to determine who will win the cryptography race. The key question may be whether quantum computers will develop fast enough to crack blockchains. The answer will depend on whether cryptographers develop security solutions fast enough to protect themselves from quantum hackers.

However, the relationship between quantum computing and blockchain is not necessarily adversarial; some researchers believe that quantum computing and blockchain technology will eventually converge. This could create safer, faster, and potentially revolutionary computing solutions that could ultimately help solve a variety of cryptographic and real-world problems.

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  1. What is quantum computing – how is it different from blockchain?
  2. Will quantum computing disrupt blockchains and end cryptocurrencies?
  3. Can quantum computing be integrated or enhanced with future blockchains?
  4. What is a quantum-resistant ledger?
  5. What is Bitcoin Post-Quantum?
  6. What is the future of quantum computing and blockchain?

What is quantum computing – how is it different from blockchain?

For those who may be unfamiliar, quantum computing is a unique type of computing that exploits “quantum states” to solve logical problems that either require staggering processing power or are nearly impossible for ordinary supercomputers to solve question. Instead of analyzing a set of questions one by one like a traditional supercomputer, a quantum computer can analyze a large number of potential questions and answers simultaneously. These computers harness the power of quantum physics to minimize the number of potentially wrong answers at breakneck speed, while honing potentially correct answers incredibly fast.

Current computers, often referred to as classical computers, consist of bits of 1 or 0, but not both. Quantum computers are not made of bits, but qubits, which, thanks to a concept called quantum superposition, allow these bits to exist in two states at the same time. Also, unlike conventional bits, qubits can interact with each other in a process called quantum entanglement, creating a large quantum state for the entire computing system. Each additional qubit doubles the number of potential states for computers, which have enormous computational power compared to classical computers.

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In addition to solving highly complex problems, quantum computing has incredible potential to change the world of encryption. Due to the nature of quantum physics and quantum states, the state of a particular piece of information actually changes when it is observed. So, in theory, quantum encryption could be truly unbreakable because the state of any information would be irreversibly changed if viewed by anyone (or any machine) other than the intended party. However, just as quantum computing can create strong encryption, it also has the potential to break previously uncrackable forms of encryption, making it potentially conflicting with the entire purpose of blockchain.

Companies like IBM are currently using quantum computers to solve a variety of problems, such as developing higher-energy-density batteries for electric vehicles, developing new materials that could reduce carbon emissions, and even finding particles that could reveal the origin of the universe.

In contrast to quantum computing, blockchain can be described as a set of distributed ledger technologies that use cryptography to create a ledger of information that cannot be effectively changed once verified by a series of distributed computers (called nodes). Using various consensus mechanisms, a distributed network of nodes agrees or disagrees to “validate” a block of information, adding it to the blockchain. Blockchain is entirely in the realm of classical computing, which means that the blockchain will only be in a single state at a certain point in time.

As the industry has shown, blockchain technology is an excellent tool for creating distributed applications through self-executing smart contracts, including digital currencies, logistics and record-keeping protocols, and various financial products. These include lending, staking, liquidity mining, and even distributed insurance protocols.

However, due to the limitations of the network, blockchains are not necessarily good at solving problems that require high-level computational problem-solving abilities. In fact, slow transaction speeds are one of the biggest problems in blockchains today, with new blockchains racing to provide solutions that can operate at higher transactions per second (TPS). Quantum computing, by contrast, has great potential for solving some of the big, intractable problems of science and technology, but it’s not necessarily a great tool for creating consumer applications that ordinary people use.

So it’s safe to say that quantum computing is two highly distinct technologies, but the interplay between them could change both industries forever.

Will quantum computing disrupt blockchains and end cryptocurrencies?

When it comes to quantum computing and blockchain, the main concern is that quantum computers could overwhelm blockchain encryption — leading to the end of secure cryptocurrencies as we know them. If quantum encryption can overwhelm blockchain cryptography, it could lead to massive cryptocurrency theft and major disruption, even if the entire crypto industry doesn’t collapse.

A Deloitte study shows that 25% of bitcoins could be stolen in one attack. As of January 2022, this will reach about $300 billion, and as the cryptocurrency market continues to grow dramatically, quantum computer-based crypto hackers could end up stealing trillions of dollars, potentially chasing the global economy, and in the process destroy the entire blockchain.

Specifically, a well-known theoretical computer algorithm called the Shor function, when implemented by a quantum computer, can theoretically solve for prime factors currently hidden by elliptic curve multiplication. This is a form of multiplication used for hashing, and is (currently) nearly impossible to reverse (i.e. find the original numbers that multiplied together to form the private key).

For example, the researchers calculated that a classical computer would require 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 elementary operations to determine the private key associated with the public key using elliptic curve multiplication. In theory, this could take thousands of years.

In comparison, a quantum computer using Shor’s function only needs 2,097,152 basic operations to determine the private key associated with the public key, based on the same calculations. By comparison, this may only take a few hours. It’s important to realize, however, that mainstream quantum computers have not yet developed the ability to exploit the Shor function, and it’s unclear when this function will be fully developed.

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In addition to breaking blockchain encryption, another concern is that quantum computers could replace traditional computers for cryptocurrency mining. As in theory, if these computers are able to mine faster than traditional mining equipment such as ASICs, it could lead to asset price instability, 51% attacks, and extreme centralization of mining power. However, it should be noted that this is primarily a concern for proof-of-work blockchains like Bitcoin, and generally does not affect proof-of-stake-based consensus models. Due to environmental concerns and other factors, most proof-of-work blockchains, like Ethereum, are moving to proof-of-stake and other consensus models that do not involve computationally intensive mining.

Despite these calculations and estimates, not all experts are convinced that quantum computing will be able to effectively crack blockchains and make traditional cryptography obsolete. For example, some argue that the SHA-256 encryption used in Bitcoin may be quantum resistant. Even if a quantum computer were able to crack current blockchain encryption methods, it could take 10 to 20 years, giving blockchain cryptographers a head start in developing new, stronger encryption methods.

In addition, RSA encryption, the most common alternative to elliptic curve encryption, may also be somewhat quantum resistant. While elliptic curve encryption is considered more secure than RSA encryption for traditional decryption, experts suggest the opposite may be true for quantum decryption. Furthermore, even if RSA eventually becomes “quantum crackable,” soft forks and changing wallet addresses may be able to mitigate much of a quantum computer’s actual ability to disrupt blockchains or steal cryptocurrencies.

Can quantum computing be integrated or enhanced with future blockchains?

While some believe quantum computing could disrupt blockchains and cryptocurrencies as we know them, others believe quantum encryption could be combined with blockchains to create blockchains that are more secure than today’s protocols. In theory, these blockchains would be highly resistant to conventional hacking and quantum computer attacks.

Specifically, experts believe that traditional blockchain cryptography methods, such as asymmetric key algorithms and hash functions utilizing the aforementioned elliptic curve multiplication, can be replaced with quantum keys.

Quantum key cryptography, also known as quantum key distribution (QKD), operates by sending “quantum particles” of light in the form of photons over an optical link. As we mentioned earlier, any attempt by an eavesdropper to view the photons being transmitted effectively de-authenticates the transaction.

To be practical, these quantum keys need to be used with one-time password (OTP) encryption, which generates a key that can only be used once.

Quantum computing is detailed in a fascinating paper titled “Quantum Blockchain: Decentralized, Encrypted and Distributed Databases Based on Quantum Mechanics” by Chuntang Li, Yinsong Xu, Jiahao Tang and Wenjie Liu in the Journal of Quantum Computing Applications in future blockchains provide other benefits; in particular node selection randomization, which is currently a major problem for blockchains. Instead of utilizing current randomization methods, quantum blockchain protocols can utilize quantum random number generators to select randomly chosen validator nodes.

The paper argues that quantum blockchains also have the potential to replace the classic Byzantine agreement protocol with a new type of quantum Byzantine agreement protocol that will employ quantum encryption. While highly theoretical at this point, this could both help prevent 51% attacks and create new, highly secure quantum-encrypted-based cryptocurrencies.

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While most of the above refers to the creation of new quantum blockchains, there is also the potential for quantum technology to be applied to existing blockchains, which could both increase decentralization and reduce major blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana. The transaction time of the blockchain.

A potential issue that is obscure and not addressed in the referenced paper is how quantum computing capabilities, including quantum key generation, will be distributed through node operators. Currently, most quantum computers are highly experimental and extremely expensive, which means that it is difficult to implement the large number of node operators required for a truly decentralized blockchain. That could change, however; a company in China has launched a small quantum computer that costs as little as $5,000, far less than what is currently required to run a full Ethereum node.

What is a quantum-resistant ledger?

So far, only two public blockchain projects claim to be fully quantum-resistant, the quantum-resistant ledger and Bitcoin post-quantum. Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) bills itself as “a post-quantum secure blockchain with a stateful signature scheme and unparalleled security.”

To this end, the QRL protocol uses “XMSS specified by the IETF, a hash-based forward secure signature scheme with minimal security assumptions.” XMSS is an extended Merkle signature scheme that utilizes Merkle trees. These are trees where each node is marked with a cryptographic hash of a block of data.

A Merkle tree can be defined as “the complete hash of all hashes of all transactions in a single block in an existing blockchain network”.

State-based hash signature schemes such as Merkle signatures are considered more resistant to quantum hacking than RSA or elliptic curve cryptography. However, hash state-based signature schemes such as XMSS can be vulnerable if the key is used multiple times, which does put them at a disadvantage relative to other forms of cryptography.

Currently, the National Information Technology Laboratory (NIST) Computer Security Resource Center is actively soliciting research and commentary on these encryption techniques to assess their potential advantages and disadvantages for civilian and government use. In addition to XMSS, NIST is currently evaluating nearly 70 new approaches to “post-quantum cryptography.”

The quantum-resistant ledger claims that its “extended” Merkle signature scheme is more efficient and secure than traditional Merkle signature schemes, although this is difficult to prove without a truly efficient quantum computer to crack it.

In addition to developing a proprietary blockchain, the group has also issued its own cryptocurrency (QRL), which is priced below $0.20 as of January 2022 and has a total market capitalization of just over $14 million. Like the blockchain on which it is based, the creators of QRL claim that the cryptocurrency itself is the first to be completely immune to quantum hacking. Like other cryptocurrencies, QRL can be mined from a single node or as part of a participating mining pool.

What is Bitcoin Post-Quantum?

In addition to the somewhat popular QRL project, another blockchain project, Bitcoin Post-Quantum, also claims to use the hash-based extended Merkle signature scheme (XMSS) to protect itself from quantum computing attacks. Specifically, BPQ is an experimental fork of Bitcoin’s main blockchain that uses quantum-secure digital signatures instead of more traditional encryption techniques . In the coming years, research conducted by BPQ may form the basis for introducing quantum-resistant encryption to the Bitcoin main network.

Unlike QRL, BPQ is currently more of a research phase and its planned currency BitcoinPQ has not yet been mined.

What is the future of quantum computing and blockchain?

The extremely uncertain future of quantum computing and blockchain could be one of the determining factors for the future of computer science. Blockchain helped democratize the internet, created cryptocurrencies, and spawned the world’s largest distributed computer network in the form of popular blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

By contrast, quantum computing, still in its early stages, has the potential to help solve many of the most impactful scientific and technological problems of our time, advancing technology in ways we could not have foreseen. If quantum computing and blockchain collide, it could be an epic disaster. However, if cryptography continues to evolve to create more and more quantum-resistant encryption methods, or if quantum encryption itself is integrated into blockchains, the combination of these promising technologies will help create a more secure, more democratized the Internet and more likely to have a positive impact on the world.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/this-article-explains-quantum-computing-and-blockchain-in-detail/
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