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How secure is your 4096-bit RSA-encrypted data? Pretty strong, at least by today’s current technology. But with the advent of quantum computers, today’s strong algorithms will become weaklings.
Quantum computers are computers that are based on the quantum mechanical properties of matter at the sub-atomic level. But they’re not a reality just yet. While quantum computers exist, knowledge about how to build them to be more powerful is still being researched.
The power of quantum computers is measured by a unit called qubit. Today’s best quantum computers are at the 70 qubit level. The estimate for quantum computers to be able to break a 2048-bit encryption is about a billion qubits. So it seems like we don’t need to worry just yet, but researchers think that within the next decade quantum computing will be at the point where today’s encryption methods will become obsolete.
The race is on by countries to develop quantum computers. The US is spending about $1.2 billion at the federal level for research. But investment levels are much higher in China.
Elsa Kania, adjunct senior fellow for the Center for a new American Security, told the WSJ that “if there is a modern-day equivalent of the Manhattan Project happening anywhere in the world in order to achieve a quantum computer, it is happening in China and not the US.”