According to a recent paper, Chinese researchers claimed to have discovered a novel method to break the Rivest–Shamir–Adleman 2048 bit (RSA-2048) signing algorithm present in blockchains and other security protocols. RSA is a cryptographic technique that utilizes a public key to encrypt information and a private key to decrypt them.
Breaching the RSA-2048 algorithm requires, similar to other algorithms in the RSA numbers family, finding the prime factors of a number with 617 decimal digits and 2048 binary digits. Experts estimate that it would take ordinary computers 300 trillion years to break an RSA-2048 encryption key. However, Chinese researchers said in their paper that the encryption could be inversed with a quantum computer with 372 qubits, or a basic unit of information acting as a proxy for computation power.
In comparison, the latest IBM Osprey quantum computer has a processing capacity of 433 qubits. Previously, experts calculated that factoring RSA-2048 with quantum computers employing Shor’s algorithm (a quantum factoring method) would require 13,436 qubits.
Unlike classical computers that operate on a binary basis of 0 or 1, quantum computers utilize quantum bits that can take on infinite states at temperatures of -273°C (-459.4°F), achieved by using liquid gas coolants. Thus, the quantum computer is able to map out all possible solutions to a cryptographic problem and attempt them all at once, increasing efficiency on an astronomic scale.
Comparison of classical vs quantum computing | Source: Towards Data Science.
As told by American cryptographer Bruce Schneier, Chinese researchers appear to have combined “classical lattice reduction factoring techniques with a quantum approximate optimization algorithm” that successfully factored 48-bit numbers using a 10-qubit quantum computer. “And while there are always potential problems when scaling something like this up by a factor of 50, there are no obvious barriers,” Schneier commented.
Security expert Roger Grimes also added:
“Apparently what happened is another guy who had previously…..