Quantum computers today can’t stand up to modern encryption methods. But if simulations prove true, a future of larger, more powerful systems may threaten the integrity of government information and, subsequently, national security.
Quantum computers are fundamentally different from traditional computers. The processors they use rely on quantum physics to solve specific problems that regular computing processors could never solve. Companies such as IBM, Intel, Google and D-Wave Systems are developing quantum computers, and some companies are on track to release quantum computing processors that reach “quantum supremacy,” the 50-qubit academic benchmark at which a quantum processor outpaces traditional supercomputers.
That improvement is a double-edged sword. While today’s impossible computing problems include analysis of complex chemical reactions and organization of multi-variable logistics (think self-driving cars or automated package delivery), they also include the code that keeps classified government information safe.