Crypto holds the key to changing finance as we know it. But there’s a threat to the security of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. That threat comes in the form of Quantum computers, which could exploit certain vulnerabilities in the Bitcoin network.
Anyone who owns Bitcoin uses a private key, which essentially works like a password and consists of a unique private number. These keys are also used to sign transactions and prove ownership of any type of blockchain address. Public key cryptography prevents any hacker using any of today’s technology from cracking the code. However, if Quantum computing continues along its trajectory of advancement, there will almost certainly be a day where one of these computers could crack the code. This presents a potential threat to cryptocurrency, as some of them are valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. Bitcoin alone has a current market cap value of US$922 billion.
Fortunately, the issue of crypto security in the face of this ever-evolving, powerful technology, is being countered. The problem can be fixed through the adoption of post-quantum cryptography technology. In fact, the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been working on a way to find quantum-proof cryptography algorithms. Additionally, many other blockchains, like Ethereum, have been working tirelessly to produce quantum resistant software. However, for these already existing blockchains, due to the decentralised nature of crypto, more than half of its users must be convinced to develop a new “fork” of the existing blockchain. This means the bigger problem could be adjusting the governance structures of various blockchains.
There has always been a battle between security systems versus the people who wish to break into them. As crypto becomes more mainstream, Quantum computers will also become mainstream in the coming decade, which could potentially put crypto and the wider financial markets at risk if this technology falls into the wrong hands.