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Quantum computing will change cybersecurity

Google has publicly claimed that it is on the brink of demonstrating ‘quantum supremacy’: the ability to solve problems that classical computers never could. Not to be outshone, Microsoft has also made a statement, saying the unveiling of a new design of quantum computing is imminent. What does this mean for fintech?

While we are seeing much exciting development, and more and more, implementation of blockchain and AI, developments in quantum computing have been slow. It has been touted as ‘the next big thing’ for 40 years.

Quantum computing is again making headlines because this is the first time its widespread adoption could soon be a reality. ‘Soon’ is three to five years away, according to Todd Holmdahl from Microsoft’s quantum team.

Confused about how quantum computing works? Quantum computers can tackle thousands of complex problems at once. They do this by going beyond the current ability of microprocessors which use zeros and ones. A quantum computer exploits the weird properties of the atomic world, explained the Times.

Quantum computers will be able to factorize the product of two large prime numbers. Why does this matter? Because the inability of today’s computers to do this is the basis of internet cryptography.

Quantum computing will change cyber security. Everything sent securely in the past – including bank transactions – will ‘no longer be safe’.

With improvements in cybersecurity, quantum computing may allow us to read much of the encrypted traffic sent in the past. Secrets abound. This is why the National Security Agency of the United States (NSA) is taking notice and is advising partners to prepare for the upcoming quantum resistant algorithm transition.

However, not everyone believes that extreme disruption is three to five years away. It’s more like 20, according to Dr Levy from the National Cyber Security Centre, as quoted in a Times article. The reason Google, Microsoft and Intel are talking about it again is that the barriers to disruption are no longer scientific. Instead, limits to quantum computing stem more from engineering limits regarding design for implementation and material use cases.

But some changes are certain to arrive soon. The next few years will be the ‘dawn of the commercial quantum era,’ according to Dario Gil, vice-president of AI and IBM Q, IBM Research.

Some advantages of quantum computing that will be visible much sooner are improvements in the modelling of data and efficiency across logistics, finance, risk analysis, and smart cities.

 

By Grace Appleford, Research Analyst for Holland FinTech.

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