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Like most governments Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) As much as we love walking with stones in our shoes. Recent ransomware attacks, where hackers have targeted vulnerable infrastructure such as gas pipelines and demanded ransom in the form of Bitcoin, are adding more scrutiny to the cryptocurrency. There is also a lot of regulatory scrutiny into the use of bitcoin for illegal activities and money laundering. Moreover, the energy use of bitcoin mining has spiraled out of control in recent years and poses a direct threat to climate change initiatives.

The rise of quantum computing may soon give governments a way to crack down on Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrencies. The information encoded in “quantum” supercomputers, known as qubits, is contained in No final The cases are due to something called superposition, where there are infinite decimals between 0 and 1, which greatly boosts their speed on binary computer systems. It is possible that governments will decrypt cryptocurrencies or launch hash attacks to gain control of their network in order to regulatory shutdown of these devices. Let us analyze this danger in detail.

Image source: Getty Images.

Crypto Bitcoin in 2 minutes

Before we can understand Bitcoin’s quantitative vulnerability to government oversight, we must first understand how the network works. Consider this first basic analogy for cryptocurrency: Draw two points on a circle and label them A and B. Next, draw a series of intermediate points on the circle (C, D, E, etc.) and connect a line through all of these points from A to B. points A and B are visual representations of public key To the wallet address while there is a file number of steps It took to get from A to B are one’s representations secret key. To an outside observer, there are near-infinite paths one can take from A to B, and it would take until the end of time to guess the correct path using normal computers. Bitcoin cryptography is similar, except that it uses elliptical curves, which are difficult to break, in a process called the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) to secure one’s wallets.

Next, consider this analogy to understand the hash attack vulnerability: Try opening a three-digit lock without Knowing the passcode (bolt breakers not allowed). The puzzle itself (known as SHA-256) isn’t complicated at all, but it does require a lot of attempts to figure out the correct combination. It is similar to miners verifying opaque Bitcoin transactions, except that the network uses a secure process to ensure they are not compromised. What is different is that the difficulty is variable and can reach ridiculously large numbers.

The looming quantum invasion

Let’s go back to the two examples. Hacking either ECDSA or SHA-256 is simple but frequent: someone guesses a possible path or combination, tries it, and it’s either true or false. But imagine being able to identify all the possible solutions to hybrid locking and then try them All at once. This is what a quantum computer can do.

Keep in mind that it takes a 5,000-kilobyte quantum computer to hack Bitcoin’s encryption and solve the private keys. At the moment, the most advanced quantum computers can only access 66 qubits as their quantum states are difficult to control. So the idea of ​​any government quantum computers decrypting your crypto wallets should be the least of your worries for at least the next 100 years or so.

Should I be worried?

Fortunately, cryptography is an area that greatly favors the defender rather than the attacker. TThe fear and uncertainty of quantum computing is very remote given its slow development and the ability of the Bitcoin network to evolve to resist attacks, such as crypto upgrades. Remember, there are other priorities for which governments may want to use quantum computers, as many hacking and ransomware incidents still occur outside of the Bitcoin realm.

However, the same cannot be said for other, less secure altcoinsWith network hash rates much lower than Bitcoin. It could mean that even the least sophisticated quantum computer can launch 51% of hash attacks (meaning it only needs to control 51% of the network’s mining power) against them. After all, don’t be surprised if the US Securities and Exchange Commission gets its hands on one and uses it to start shutting down some of the delayed regulatory cryptocurrency sooner rather than later.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of Motley Fool’s premium advisory service. We are diverse! Asking about an investment thesis — even if it’s our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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