The threat posed to the cryptospace by the advent of quantum computers has been well known for several years. The massive computational power of quantum data processing has the muscle to determine an electronic wallet’s private key just by reading the public key, which is something that would take a classical computer an unfeasible amount of time to accomplish. This means that every time a virtual currency transaction is processed on a blockchain, the corresponding signature and public key used for validation can also be used by bad actors to steal your identity or assets. This is one of the problems that keep blockchain developers up at night. Is there a way to fend off the rise of quantum computers long enough to find a solution? The answer to this pressing issue may just have come from the Russian Quantum Center (RQC).
Stories began to circulate on the internet yesterday afternoon when HPCwire reported the existence of a quantum-safe blockchain in Russia. According to HPCwire, the quantum-safe blockchain, called a K-Chain, was used under real-world conditions to conduct a transaction on the Gazprombank network. RQC’s Aleksey Fedorov told ETHNews:
“We used Gazprombank infrastructure for testing quantum key distribution in real-life conditions. Quantum-generated keys were used for authentications of parties in the developed blockchain platform. We then demonstrated a principle of blockchain construction with a test transaction (not related to an operation activity of the bank).”
Just as quantum computers have numerous advantages over classical computers, so too do K-Chains have numerous advantages over classical blockchains. Classical chains use solid-state electronic components to function. They broadcast to the internet for simple connectivity as well as to prevent double-spending, and are vulnerable to 51% attacks. Classical encryption is used and a network’s capacity is limited by finite block confirmation times. K-Chains, however, use quantum mechanical principals called qubits to function. They do not need to be “connected” to the internet to work, as quantum entanglement maintains a constant connection based on the laws of physics (the range and speed of quantum entanglement actually make it possible to send faster than light messages). K-chains also make double-spending impossible, reduce block confirmation times to zero, and have theoretically unlimited network capacity that’s fully secured by quantum encryption.
“One of the main motivating factors for our work is to join two communities: quantum-information scientists and blockchain developers. I think that quantum-safe blockchain platforms can limit economic and social risks from imminent breakthroughs in quantum computation technology … The most important [aspect] for this project is combining two forefront technologies: quantum communications and blockchains.”
As humanity continues to ascend up the exponential curve of technological growth, more and more radical technologies will emerge, seemingly without warning. The combination of, and interoperability between, these new technologies offer people a chance to re-think past technological developments in new ways, and provide avenues to improve our techno-social society. As blockchain technology and communities continue to evolve, breakthroughs like those of the RQC will undoubtedly continue to advance the underlying technological paradigms.