China’s Breakthrough

In a major breakthrough, Chinese scientists have published a paper proposing using quantum computing techniques to break modern-day encryption systems. 

Their technique involves using 372 qubits on an IBM quantum computer combined with Schnoor’s classical factoring algorithm for RSA 2048-bit numbers used in encryption systems. If the paper’s findings are accurate, then it could have serious implications for military and intelligence communication, financial transactions, and text messages around the world since existing cryptographic protocols would become vulnerable to attack. 

The paper is currently under peer review, and its validity has been questioned by experts such as Lawrence Gasman, president of Inside Quantum Technology, who believes that it should at least be taken seriously given the possible consequences of its findings. 

“It’s enormously important that some people in the West come to some real conclusions on this because if it’s true, it’s pretty disastrous,” he notes. 

The potential of this new technique from Chinese scientists highlights the issue of key encryptions becoming increasingly vulnerable in the face of advancing technology. 

“If you look at the roadmaps that the major quantum computer companies are putting out there, talking about getting to a machine of the power that the Chinese are talking about, frankly, I don’t know. But you know, this year, next year, very soon. And having said that, I tend to be a believer that there’s going to happen soon,” Gasman added. 

Andersen Cheng, CEO of Post-Quantum, shares similar concerns and cautions that even if this particular theory is not proven successful, there will eventually be other approaches that can crack key encryptions without visible signs or warnings until after have been executed. Therefore, governments must be proactive in developing more secure protocols, such as ones based on quantum technologies, before it is too late. 

“The general consensus in the community is that whilst these claims cannot be proven to work there is no definitive evidence that the Chinese algorithm cannot be successfully scaled up either. I share this skepticism, but we should still be worried as the probability of the algorithm working is non-zero and the impact is potentially catastrophic. Even if this algorithm doesn’t work, a sufficiently powerful quantum computer to run Shor’s algorithm“—a method of factoring the very large numbers used by RSA—” will one day be designed – it is purely an issue of engineering and scaling the current generation of quantum computers.”