What does quantum computing have to do with your cybersecurity?





Analysis: Fully functioning quantum computers will have a serious impact on how we secure our online systems

This year’s online attacks on the Health Service Executive (HSE) and NUI Galway once again drew attention to cybersecurity. We all want to feel safe when we go online, and cybersecurity is about keeping what needs to be private private. As a kid, you may have wanted to pass a message on to a friend, but you didn’t want anyone else to read it or it wouldn’t make sense to them.

Cryptography, the science of ciphers, deals with just that: how to change your message so that it doesn’t make sense to others (encryption), and only the entity to whom the message is addressed can undo that change to keep the original. message to be read (decoding).

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From Drivetime of RTÉ Radio 1, HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor and Fergal Hickey of Sligo University Hospital on the ongoing impact of this year’s cyber attack on the health service

You can compare it with the security system of your door at home: only people with a valid key are allowed in. A logical question then is: how secure is your locking system? There isn’t just one way to lock a door, so which one is the best or the safest? Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but the harder it is for burglars to try and open your door, the safer it is. The same definition of security applies to cryptography and cybersecurity: a system is safer if it takes more effort to break into.

The current coding systems used when you go online are based on certain math problems that are difficult to solve by an outsider who does not have access to all the information. For example, if I give you two numbers to multiply, say 1 117 and 10 111, it’s relatively easy for you to do that: 1 117 * 10 111 = 11 293 987. However, if I just give you the number 11 293 give 987 and ask you to find out the factors (the numbers that multiplied together give that number), namely 1 117 and 10 111, the task becomes quite difficult for you and you would probably stop soon enough.

This is basically what happens when you go online. Your identity, messages, or account information is otherwise encrypted using a mathematical procedure that is very difficult to undo by an eavesdropper. What is “hard” and what is not? Hard is defined here as a problem that takes too much time for a computer to solve. Which computer? Any computer, but the only computers we know and have at home and at work, are called classic computers.

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From RTÉ Lyric FM’s Cuture File on Classic Drive, Aisling Kelliher on the uncertain new horizons of quantum computing

However, the idea of ​​a quantum computer is now being widely explored and researched. A quantum computer uses quantum systems (very small particles) and the principles of quantum physics to perform calculations.

Why bother when we already have computers? Well, because theoretically there are certain problems or tasks that are difficult to solve for a classical computer, but that same task would be easier to solve for a quantum computer. That sounds great, right?

But wait, we defined cybersecurity by using hard problems for a classic computer so that someone could easily hack any system if they had a quantum computer. Theoretically yes, but the good (and bad) news is that we are a long way from having a fully functioning quantum computer because it is also extremely difficult to make one. Therefore, concerted efforts are needed worldwide to do more research into quantum computing.

This year’s attacks show that hackers don’t yet need quantum computers to hack into secure systems, which means “secure.”

Ireland will host the 2nd European Quantum Technologies Virtual Conference between November 29 and December 2. and December 2, 2021. This should be of interest to more than just researchers, as the general public should also know that quantum computing is a thing. In Ireland, researchers and enthusiasts of quantum computers have QIreland . set up as part of QWorld’s global network with the main goal of popularizing quantum computers and technologies.

More than 200 people, from high school, college and postgraduate students to educators and researchers in mathematics, physics, data analytics and computer science, registered for QIreland’s first online event last May. Irish participants were affiliated with 12 universities across the country, demonstrating that people are interested in learning more about quantum computing and that such educational initiatives are crucial for the future.

Don’t worry about your cybersecurity being compromised by the rise of quantum computers just yet. This year’s attacks show that hackers don’t yet need quantum computers to hack into secure systems, which means “secure.”


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ





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