Quantum computers (QCs) are on their way to being readily available in the next few decades. QCs pose many threats to the cryptocurrency world since they will be able to run algorithms at lightning speeds compared to the PCs of today, allowing them to crack nearly any encryption. Cryptocurrency encryption is vulnerable to quantum computing since QCs are able to do what it takes many computers in parallel to do.

Normal computers organize data with 1s and 0s called bits, which can be thought of as “on and off” switches for a specific command. In the realm of quantum computing, QCs use qubits which can simultaneously be 1 and 0, and therefore a qubit encompasses all of the possible points between 1 and 0 in a three-dimensional (3D) sphere. In other words, QCs are able to try all of the possible points between 0 and 1 in a three-dimensional space simultaneously. That means they could theoretically reverse-engineer an encryption key in seconds.

Cryptographers have begun their research for increasing the security around cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s developers have proposed using a new public key for every transaction which means QCs have only a short window to crack the encryption. A new distributed ledger technology, Internet of Things Architecture (IOTA), has a different approach to the threat. IOTA uses quantum-resistant cryptography to secure the network and prevent attackers from stealing IOTA tokens.

IOTA allows devices to speak freely among each other and their environment without human interaction. The IOTA distributed ledger is unique in that public and private key pairs must not be the same. Instead of new transactions being recorded in a chain manner, they are in an entangled network. This should hold off QCs for some time but it is not the permanent solution, as we have yet to see the full potential of QCs. The race towards a safer, more secure distributed ledger has begun as QCs begin to make their way into the hands of more people.