Betting on quantum computing to beef up cyber security

Monoverse, a blockchain gaming company developing the play-to-earn NFT game Frutti Dino, has announced its collaboration with EYL, a quantum encryption startup.

After signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the company, Monoverse will test EYL’s high-performance quantum random number generator chip as a hardware solution for beefing up the security of encryption keys in its blockchain projects.

Randomness is one of the central pillars for cryptography as a field. It plays a major role in the blockchain ecosystem, which heavily relies on cryptography to maintain the integrity of its operations. Crypto wallets generate private keys, which are crucial for controlling one’s digital assets, randomly.

Currently, though, most encryption keys are produced by mathematics-based pseudo random number generators. Such algorithms can be deterministic in nature, which makes for an inherent flaw and a potential weak link for malicious actors to explore.

EYL is the first company to successfully use radioactive isotopes as the basis for chip quantum random number generator chips. Its Quantum Pulse Generator provides strong entropy, molecular randomness and disorder, to generate a truly random key in a way that cannot be reverse-engineered.

Monoverse and EYL will explore quantum random number generation technology as a way to resolve vulnerabilities in private key generation and user authentication. Through its collaboration with Monoverse, EYL is looking to help it enhance the security of users’ private keys and cold wallets.

“Quantum computing is nothing short of a revolution for cryptography,” says Jaehyun Lee, CEO of Monoverse.

“By teaming up with EYL, the leading providers of quantum-based RNG hardware, we are making our infrastructure future-proof. Their solutions will help us make blockchain and crypto even more secure for users, protecting their digital assets with true randomly-generated keys.”

Analysis

Much of today’s encryption is based on mathematical formulas that would take today’s computers an impractically long time to decode. To simplify this, think of two large numbers, for example, and multiply them together. It’s easy to come up with the product, but much harder to start with the large number and factor it into its two prime numbers.

A quantum computer, however, can easily factor those numbers and break the code. Peter Shor developed a quantum algorithm (aptly named Shor’s algorithm) that easily factors large numbers far more quickly than a classical computer. Since then,  scientists have been working on developing quantum computers that can factor increasingly larger numbers.  

Today’s RSA encryption, a widely used form of encryption, particularly for sending sensitive data over the internet, is based on 2048-bit numbers. Experts estimate that a quantum computer would need to be as large as 70 million qubits to break that encryption. Considering the largest quantum computer today is IBM’s 53-qubit quantum computer, it could be a long time before we’re breaking that encryption.

As the pace of quantum research continues to accelerate, though, the development of such a computer within the next 3-5 years cannot be discounted. As an example, earlier this year, Google and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden reportedly found “a more efficient way for quantum computers to perform the code-breaking calculations, reducing the resources they require by orders of magnitude.”

Their work, highlighted in the MIT Technology Review, demonstrated that a 20 million-qubit computer could break a 2048-bit number – in a mere 8 hours. What that demonstration means is that continued breakthroughs like this will keep pushing the timeline up.

It’s worth noting that perishable sensitive data is not the main concern when it comes to the quantum encryption threat. The greater risk is the vulnerability of information that needs to retain its secrecy well into the future, such as national security-level data, banking data and privacy act data.

Those are the secrets that really need to be protected with quantum-proof encryption now, particularly in the face of bad actors who are stealing it while they wait for a quantum computer that can break the encryption.  

Adapting Cybersecurity to Address the Threat

Researchers have been working hard in the last several years to develop “quantum-safe” encryption. The American Scientist reported that the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is already evaluating 69 potential new methods for what it calls “post-quantum cryptography (PQC).” 

Another promising method is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), which uses the properties of quantum physics to securely transfer a “quantum key” between two endpoints. Initially, this method was only possible over fiber optic cable, but Quantum Xchange has now developed a way to transfer it over the Internet as well. Through the company’s Phio TX, businesses can choose the level of quantum readiness they desire and seamlessly add in QKD or PQC as needed for the security of their communications. 

There are a lot of questions surrounding quantum computing, and scientists continue to work diligently to answer them. When it comes to the impact of quantum computing on cybersecurity, though, one thing is certain: it will pose a threat to cybersecurity and our current forms of encryption.

To mitigate that threat we need to change how we keep our data secure and start doing it now. We need to approach the quantum threat as we do other security vulnerabilities: by deploying a defense-in-depth approach, one characterized by multiple layers of quantum-safe protection.

Security-forward organizations understand this need for crypto agility and are seeking solutions like those offered by Quantum Xchange to make their encryption quantum-safe now, and quantum-ready for tomorrow’s threats. 

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