Quantum computing may make current encryption obsolete, a quantum internet could be the solution

Quantum computer. Big data. Abstract physics concept with grid quantum computer. Learning artificial intelligence element. Cryptography infographic.

Sometime between now and 2030, the mathematical system that protects all of digital communications may fall victim to a superior quantum system. Preparing for that time may require us to reinvent the network itself.

“The quantum threat is basically going to destroy the security of networks as we know them today,” declared Bruno Huttner, who directs strategic quantum initiatives for Geneva, Switzerland-based ID Quantique. No other commercial organization since the turn of the century has been more directly involved in the development of science and working theories for the future quantum computer network.

Quantum computers offer great promise for cryptography and optimization problems. ZDNet explores what quantum computers will and won’t be able to do, and the challenges we still face.

One class of theory involves cryptographic security. The moment a quantum computer (QC) breaks through the dam currently held in place by public-key cryptography (PKC), every encrypted message in the world will become vulnerable. That’s Huttner’s “quantum threat”.

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The quantum internet will blow your mind. Here’s what it will look like

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The next generation of the Internet will rely on revolutionary new tech — allowing for unhackable networks and information that travels faster than the speed of light.

Call it the quantum Garden of Eden. Fifty or so miles east of New York City, on the campus of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Eden Figueroa is one of the world’s pioneering gardeners planting the seeds of a quantum internet. Capable of sending enormous amounts of data over vast distances, it would work not just faster than the current internet but faster than the speed of light — instantaneously, in fact, like the teleportation of Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk in Star Trek.

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Quantum states in conventional electronics may beat end of Moore’s law

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Graduate students Kevin Miao, Chris Anderson, and Alexandre Bourassa monitor quantum experiments at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

Scientists at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have found a way to produce quantum states in ordinary, everyday electronics. By harnessing the properties of quantum mechanics without exotic materials or equipment, this raises the possibility that quantum information technologies can be created using current devices.

For decades, the computer industry has benefited from Moore’s law, which is a rule of thumb that predicts that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double about every two years. As this has held up, computers have gone from giant machines that were part of the buildings that housed them to tiny devices that can fit on a thumbnail, yet can outperform any supercomputer from previous generations.

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You won’t see quantum internet coming

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The quantum internet is coming sooner than you think—even sooner than quantum computing itself. When things change over, you might not even notice. But when they do, new rules will protect your data against attacks from computers that don’t even exist yet.

Despite the fancy name, the “quantum internet” won’t be some futuristic new way to navigate online. It won’t produce any mind-blowing new content, at least not for decades. The quantum internet will look more or less the same as the internet you’re using now, but scientists and cryptographers hope it could provide protection against not only theoretical threats but also those we haven’t dreamed up yet.

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