What are quantum resistant algorithms and why do we need them?

Fortunately, symmetric-key encryption methods are not in danger because they work very differently and can be secured by simply increasing the size of the keys they use, that is, unless mathematicians find a way for quantum computers to break them as well. . But even increasing the key size cannot protect the existing public-key encryption algorithms of quantum computers. New algorithms are needed.

What are the repercussions if quantum computers break the encryption we currently use?

Yeah, that’s bad. If public key encryption were suddenly broken without replacement, digital security would be severely compromised. For example, websites use public key encryption to maintain secure Internet connections, so sending sensitive information through websites would no longer be safe. Cryptocurrencies also depend on public key encryption to secure their underlying blockchain technology, so the data in their ledgers would no longer be reliable.

There are also fears that hackers and nation states are hoarding highly sensitive government or intelligence data – data they cannot currently decrypt – in order to decrypt it later once quantum computers become available.

How is work on quantum resistant algorithms progressing?

In the United States, the NIST has been researching new algorithms that can withstand attacks from quantum computers. The agency began accepting public submissions in 2016, and so far those have been narrowed down to four finalists and three backup algorithms. These new algorithms use techniques capable of resisting attacks from quantum computers using Shor’s algorithm.

Project leader Dustin Moody said NIST is on schedule to complete standardization of the four finalists in 2024, which involves creating guidelines to ensure the new algorithms are used correctly and safely. The standardization of the three remaining algorithms is planned for 2028.

The job of selecting candidates for the new standard falls primarily on mathematicians and cryptographers at universities and research institutes. They submit proposals for post-quantum cryptographic schemes and research ways to attack them, sharing their findings by publishing articles and building on each other’s different attack methods.

Sharon D. Cole