(ORDO NEWS) — A new study shows that theoretically, quantum computers could hack bitcoin, but probably not in the near future, as they would have to be about a million times more powerful than they are today.
Within a decade, the popular cryptocurrency will most likely not be at risk from hackers owning quantum computers.The Bitcoin network uses a series of increasingly complex calculations on the blockchain to complete transactions.
The sheer amount of computing power needed to perform these calculations is what keeps crypto wallets secure, but on the other hand, it’s also the cause of the climate problems associated with cryptocurrencies.
For example, in February 2021, a study conducted by the University of Cambridge showed that bitcoin miners consume more energy worldwide than entire countries, including Argentina and the Netherlands.
While this energy-intensive process makes it almost impossible for ordinary computers to crack the code used by the Bitcoin network, quantum computers are expected to be orders of magnitude more powerful than today’s classical computers. What’s more, several companies, including Google and IBM, already claim to have achieved quantum supremacy.
These breakthroughs in quantum computing are why a team from the University of Sussex, led by Mark Webber, Ph.D., decided to study the requirements that one machine would need to hack the Bitcoin network.
“[Bitcoin] transactions are announced and a key is associated with that transaction,” Webber told a journalist. “And there is a limited amount of time that this key is vulnerable, and it varies, but it’s usually anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, maybe a day.”
Webber and his team calculated that it would take a quantum computer with 1.9 billion qubits to break the Bitcoin code within that 10-minute window. Hacking it in an hour would require 317 million qubits, while hacking it in a day would require 13 million qubits.
“This large physical qubit requirement implies that the Bitcoin network will be secure from quantum computing attacks for many years (potentially more than a decade),” Webber wrote in an article published in AVS Quantum Science.
While this is a guarantee for bitcoin holders, it also highlights the possibility that the vast fortunes of bitcoin could become vulnerable in the not-too-distant future.
IBM’s superconducting quantum computer has only 127 qubits, which means it would have to be a million times more powerful to crack bitcoin.
However, by 2024 the company plans to build a 1000-qubit quantum computing processor called Condor. The pace of innovation in quantum computing is difficult to predict, and hackers are very likely to follow the latest developments.
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