Researchers at the Russian Quantum Center published a paper in May 2017 describing successful experimentation with a quantum-safe blockchain via integrating quantum key distribution technology.
According to the MIT Technology Review, any information encrypted with conventional cryptography will become unsecure as soon as the first powerful enough quantum computer is turned on. This event appears inevitable to some as researchers around the world are working feverishly to develop quantum computers.
The researchers at the Russian Quantum Center theorize that those with access to quantum computers will be able to generate mining rewards at an unfair rate, making conventional mining equipment like application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) obsolete. They believe that eventually, quantum computers will be able to obtain private keys from public keys using Shor’s algorithm, compromising modern-day cryptocurrencies, possibly as soon as 2027.
Following this theory, the researchers are experimenting with a solution in the form of a quantum-secured blockchain. Quantum key distribution is utilized to verify the identities of users on the network, similar to how private keys are used to sign transactions on the Bitcoin network.
Quantum key distribution sends information using quantum particles such as a photon, and this information cannot be observed or copied by a hacker without destroying the information due to its physical nature, according to the Observer Effect.
This quantum signature is attached to every transaction on the blockchain, making the blockchain impossible to tamper with no matter how powerful an attacking computer is. The researchers have successfully built a network in which each pair of nodes is connected by a quantum key distribution link. They have tested it with a network of four users, where one of the users was trying to perform a double spend attack, and the blockchain only allowed legitimate transactions into its blocks.
The laws of physics guarantee that a quantum key cannot be compromised, and this is exactly the technology the cryptocurrency world would need to move into the quantum era. The Russian scientists who published this study think that quantum-secured blockchains will be scalable for commercial and government applications.
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