Quantum computers and the quest for quantum-resilient encryption

Entangled Secrets

Article from Issue 247/2021
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The encryption methods we use today are no match for tomorrow's quantum computers. We'll show you why and what's ahead for cryptography in the post-quantum era.

Encryption is an everyday part of life on today's Internet. Encryption protocols facilitate virtual private networks (VPNs), protect corporate secrets, and validate banking transactions. Encryption is also the secret sauce behind technologies such as digital signatures and blockchain. The beauty of encryption is that, even if an observer intercepts the transmitted data, the original contents of the message remains hidden from view.

End users and corporations alike have come to depend on encrypted private communication over public networks, but many experts believe the way we think about encryption today will have to change if we want our secrets to stay secret. Cryptographers are looking ahead for a new form of encryption that will meet the needs of the post-quantum era.

The Problem

A quantum computer is a computer that is designed to exploit the mysterious features of quantum mechanics. The basic unit of a conventional computer is binary (0 or 1). A quantum computer, on the other hand, is built around the quantum bit, or qubit, which assumes multiple states simultaneously.

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