The theory of quantum computing has been with us for nearly three decades, courtesy of a quantum mechanical model of the Turing machine proposed by physicist Paul Benioff in the early 1980s. For most of that time, the notion has seemed more a far-off vision than an impending reality. That changed abruptly with a 2019 claim by Google AI, in conjunction with NASA, that it had managed to perform a quantum computation infeasible on a conventional computer.
While many have eagerly anticipated the new vistas that could open with the arrival of quantum computing, cryptographers and security experts have not generally shared that enthusiasm since one of the most anticipated quantum advantages comes in integer factorization, which is critical to RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman)-based security. Also, as far back as 1994, MIT mathematician Peter Shor developed a quantum algorithm capable of solving the discrete logarithm problem central to Diffie-Hellman key exchange and elliptic curve cryptography.
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