Monday, November 28, 2011

The Next Arms Race

The history of codes and ciphers is a constant struggle between code creators (who want to encrypt information) and code breakers (who labor to crack those ciphers). Governments and criminals (or did I repeat myself?) are  interested in both sides -- strong encryption to protect their sensitive information and code breaking so they can read everyone else's information.

Except quantum computing is around the corner. For most of us, the only real advantage of quantum computing will be their blinding speed. Even the fastest modern Intel processor will look like a clunky broken down ox cart next to a true quantum processor.

At their heart, computers are just brute force number crunching machines. Modern encryption is un-crackable because it would take our computers longer than the age of the universe to crack them with brute force. Quantum computers will be able to crack these codes in seconds.

That means the next arms race will be in encryption. Quantum computers will threaten the entire foundation of modern e-commerce by being able to crack SSL encryption in seconds. When no data is safe to flow across the internet, then no data will flow at all.

As we know from past history, the code makers will then scramble to invent new codes that are harder to crack. Some will meet limited success and others will be spectacular failures. The good news is that eventually, the same quantum technology that created the problem will solve it too. But more on that in another post.

Until that time, you can relax and not worry about it. However, when you see the first quantum computers available for sale, you will be forewarned that this arms race has begun.

Don't want to keep track of quantum computing? Then subscribe to this blog (via RSS or e-mail) and I'll keep you posted.

Or if you want to futureproof your business, give me a call (305) 423-9574

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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