If you were too young to experience the relentless digital impending doom of Y2K before the turn of the millennium, never fear! The quantum apocalypse is a hot new threat on the block ready to potentially upheave our entire digital lives as we know it. Hopefully, like the Y2K scare, companies and individuals will work on and implement solutions that make all the fear seemed overhyped in hindsight.
The bad news is quantum computing is a lot more complicated than a date issue like Y2K, and according to the BBC (opens in new tab) (via Futurism (opens in new tab)), experts are already warning about the potential fallout as we move towards the quantum apocalypse.
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The premise is largely that quantum computers have the capacity to be far more powerful than anything most people have access to today, and they're always getting better (opens in new tab). When that leap does eventually come, it’s going to be staggeringly huge and many of our currently secure digital processes will be immediately vulnerable to this technology. Encryption that could take decades to crack on current hardware may take seconds with quantum computing, no matter how great your passwords.
“Everything we do over the internet today,” Harri Owen, chief strategy officer at the company PostQuantum told the BBC, “from buying things online, banking transactions, social media interactions, everything we do is encrypted.”
So the fear that suddenly computers will exist and be readily available that are just so much more powerful than what we’re used to, could genuinely affect many people’s lives. This one jump could represent a huge gap in technology for those who have it, and those who don’t, and history doesn’t often favour the latter. As such, many bad actors are working hard to develop these speedy computers for nefarious purposes.
Quantum computing at this scale is likely still a fair way off, with many speculating it may be at least a decade before we really see it start to be implemented in society. Thankfully, this just gives us more time to prepare. Big tech companies and governments are already working to find quantum-proof solutions for storing their own sensitive data, so the interest and motivation to be prepared is certainly there.