By D-Wave Systems, Inc. (D-Wave Systems, Inc.) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Blockchain Quantum Threat

I recently attended a technology conference on Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing, hosted by University of Toronto, which left me wondering on what is about to happen to blockchain tech when quantum computing becomes a thing. I had some thoughts:

  • Thought one: if anything can undo the blockchain immutability, quantum computing is the one thing to worry about. Bye Bye Immutability!
  • Second thought: why is the NSA freaking about quantum computing?
  • Third thought: What is going to happen to bitcoin?


I mused on this for a while, read some materials online (see links at the bottom), and realized I know zilch about quantum computing which is a really hard subject with no tolerance for dilettantes. One thing is clear: the NSA knows something, and what they know was enough to make a very secretive agency do some very public statements on the matter. Better informed people were also wondering about the same thing, and there was something else to consider: NIST announced a request for Public-Key Post-Quantum Cryptographic Algorithms.


I was about to put the topic in the back burner when it came up again in another security conference. This was a talk that followed up on an earlier 2016 presentation,  by Michele Mosca and Vlad Gheorghiu in Sector 2017  Security Conference held in Toronto  (video here).


This time around there was much more information, and even though the talk was not blockchain specific the second part went into some details:
  • An analysis on when it will be too late to react to the practical existence of quantum computers (which are just around the corner)
  • How close are we to the event (quantum computers becoming a thing)
  • Impacts to crypto algos. Hashes seem to fare better than encryption (Yey?!)
  • The impacts of quantum resistant algorithms (key size seems to be a deal breaker)
  • What can be done about it (yes, something can be done!)


Here are other reading materials on this very important topic (if you care about blockchain at all)

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