8. Limitless Security
In addition to facilitating great leaps forward in medicine, quantum technology also brings the possibility of virtually unbreakable cyber security barriers and super secure long-distance communication.
Within the world of quantum weirdness, exists a phenomenon known as “quantum entanglement,” in which two or more particles are mysteriously connected, regardless of the medium that exists between them and without any identifiable signaling. This is what Einstein famously referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” And since there is no tangible medium through which these two particles communicate, signals encoded using entangled particles would be impossible to intercept. The science needed for this technology is still underdeveloped; however, such communication would have an enormous impact on private and national security.
Drastically increased computing speed would also lend a hand to increased cybersecurity, since the exponentially greater processing power of quantum computers will allow them to withstand even the most sophisticated hacking methods, through quantum encryption. “Quantum computing will definitely be applied anywhere where we’re using machine learning, cloud computing, data analysis,” says Kevin Curran, a cybersecurity researcher at Ulster University. “In security that [means] intrusion detection, looking for patterns in the data, and more sophisticated forms of parallel computing.” Quantum computers would essentially be able to anticipate the “moves” of a hacking computer by millions—possibly billions—of steps ahead.
7. Limitless Hacking
Of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and the same quantum power that will allow encryption to be taken to new heights could potentially allow hackers to effortlessly unravel the most elaborate security measures put in place by relatively primitive machines.
Today’s most elaborate cryptographic techniques tend to be based on extraordinarily difficult mathematical problems. And while these problems are enough to deter most binary supercomputers, they would be easily cracked by a quantum computer. A quantum computer’s ability to find patterns in enormous data sets with incredible speed will allow them to factor large numbers (a feat that remains perhaps the greatest barrier for hackers), which today’s computers can only do by trying option after option until one “fits.” With qubits and quantum superposition, all possible options would be able to be tested simultaneously.
Indeed, it took roughly two years and hundreds of computers working simultaneously to unlock a single instance of the RSA-768 algorithm (which has two prime factors and requires a key that is seven hundred and sixty-eight bits long). A quantum computer would be able to complete the same task in a fraction of a second.