The National Security Agency (NSA) is trying to build a quantum computer to break most encryption that is in use today. As reported by The Washington Post, documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows that the NSA has allocated at least $79.7 million as part of a research program to build a “cryptologically useful quantum computer.”
A standard computer uses binary of either zeroes or ones. A quantum computer uses quantum bits instead, which can be zero and one at the same time. A standard computer equipped with the fastest hardware can only do one calculation at a time; a quantum computer on the other hand has the ability to avoid making unnecessary calculations. That allows it to get the correct answer much more quickly and efficiently.
The worrying part about a quantum computer designed with cryptography in mind is how it could well defeat all current forms of encryption, including those used on secure business systems or used to protect state secrets. In my opinion, I won’t feel safe using a traditional computer with such a quantum computer up and running. Hopefully, it would take another decade or more for the NSA to build a working quantum machine.
For now, let’s continue using the Internet without too much worrying about being snooped upon – unless you happen to have a spyware malware or keylogger on your system.