Quantum Computers Makes The NSA Worried

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The US National Security Agency (NSA) has a serious concern: quantum computing. Last year, the NSA warned the general public that encryption algorithms that were as safe as could be were about to become obsolete and to all intents and purposes useless because of quantum computers.

Now, the NSA has released details explaining why.

“There is growing research in the area of quantum computing, and enough progress is being made that NSA must act now,” says a new NSA document on the issue. The document is aimed at government departments and private companies that deal with sensitive data.

The problem, as the NSA explains, is simple: there is currently no method of making quantum-proof encryption. All the NSA can suggest is to use some algorithms that are “believed to be safe from attack by a large quantum computer.”

The NSA has teamed up with the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a new group of algorithms that could withstand quantum-decryption attacks and provide security in the new era, but this work may take years to come to fruition.

While some quantum-proof algorithms have been suggested by researchers, they have not been proven to work against quantum computers.

So how worried should you be? Very.

No one has concrete predictions, but the NSA is warning that we should be future-proofing systems being built now, especially those that will be serving as the backbone of critical infrastructure that could be in service for decades to come.

Progress in quantum computing research over the last few years few years has been striking. Proof-of-concept quantum computers are around the corner, and Google’s quantum computing team says they may have a working (and useful) one in just a few years.