Nav: Home

WSU mathematician breaks down how to defend against quantum computing attacks

February 28, 2017

The encryption codes that safeguard internet data today won't be secure forever.

Future quantum computers may have the processing power and algorithms to crack them.

Nathan Hamlin, instructor and director of the WSU Math Learning Center, is helping to prepare for this eventuality.

He is the author of a new paper in the Open Journal of Discrete Mathematics that explains how a code he wrote for a doctoral thesis, the Generalized Knapsack Code, could thwart hackers armed with next generation quantum computers.

The paper clarifies misunderstandings about the complex field of public key cryptography and provides a common basis of understanding for the technical experts who will eventually be tasked with designing new internet security systems for the quantum computing age.

"Designing security systems to protect data involves experts from many different fields who all work with numbers differently," Hamlin said. "You are going to have pure and applied mathematicians, computer programmers and engineers all involved in the process at some point. For it to work in real life, all of these people need to have a common language to communicate so that they can make important decisions about how to safeguard online transactions and personal communications in the future."

Preparing for the future

Quantum computers operate on the subatomic level and theoretically provide processing power that is millions, if not billions of time faster than silicon-based computers. A hacker armed with a next generation quantum computer could in theory decrypt any internet communication that was sent today, Hamlin said.

In order to create an online security system better prepared for future demands, Hamlin and retired mathematics professor William Webb created the Generalized Knapsack Code in 2015 by retrofitting a previous version of the code with alternative number representations that go beyond the standard binary and base 10 sequences today's computer use to operate.

In his paper, Hamlin breaks down how the generalized knapsack code works in terms that computer scientists, engineers and other experts outside the field of pure mathematics can understand. He explains that by disguising data with number strings more complex than the 0s and 1s conventional computers use to operate, the generalized knapsack offers a viable security method for defending against quantum computing hacks.

"The Generalized Knapsack Code expands upon the binary representations today's computers use to operate by using a variety of representations other than 0s and 1," Hamlin said. "This lets it block a greater array of cyberattacks, including those using basis reduction, one of the decoding methods used to break the original knapsack code."

Hamlin said his hope is that his paper, Number in Mathematical Cryptography, clears up misunderstandings he has run into professionally so that the generalized knapsack code can be developed for future use.

"Quantum computing will change how we handle data and we, as a society, are going to have to make some important decisions about how to prepare for it," Hamlin said. "A code like this can be implemented on conventional hardware and yet it would also be secure from a hacker with a quantum computer. I think it is time for us to consider this code very seriously for adapting commerce and perhaps communication in light of the possibility of quantum computing."
-end-


Washington State University

Related Quantum Computing Articles:

Speeding-up quantum computing using giant atomic ions
An international team of researchers have found a new way to speed up quantum computing that could pave the way for huge leaps forward in computer processing power.
Boson particles discovery provides insights for quantum computing
Researchers working on a U.S. Army project discovered a key insight for the development of quantum devices and quantum computers.
In leap for quantum computing, silicon quantum bits establish a long-distance relationship
In an important step forward in the quest to build a quantum computer using silicon-based hardware, researchers at Princeton have succeeded in making possible the exchange of information between two qubits located relatively far apart -- about the length of a grain of rice, which is a considerable distance on a computer chip.
A platform for stable quantum computing, a playground for exotic physics
Harvard University researchers have demonstrated the first material that can have both strongly correlated electron interactions and topological properties, which not only paves the way for more stable quantum computing but also an entirely new platform to explore the wild world of exotic physics.
Diversity may be key to reducing errors in quantum computing
In quantum computing, as in team building, a little diversity can help get the job done better, computer scientists have discovered.
'Valley states' in this 2D material could potentially be used for quantum computing
New research on 2-dimensional tungsten disulfide (WS2) could open the door to advances in quantum computing.
Sound of the future: A new analog to quantum computing
In a paper published in Nature Research's journal, Communications Physics, researchers in the University of Arizona Department of Materials Science and Engineering have demonstrated the possibility for acoustic waves in a classical environment to do the work of quantum information processing without the time limitations and fragility.
Imaging of exotic quantum particles as building blocks for quantum computing
Researchers have imaged an exotic quantum particle -- called a Majorana fermion -- that can be used as a building block for future qubits and eventually the realization of quantum computers.
Virginia Tech researchers lead breakthrough in quantum computing
A team of Virginia Tech chemistry and physics researchers have advanced quantum simulation by devising an algorithm that can more efficiently calculate the properties of molecules on a noisy quantum computer.
Limitation exposed in promising quantum computing material
Physicists have theorized that a new type of material, called a three-dimensional (3-D) topological insulator (TI), could be a candidate to create qubits for quantum computing due to its special properties.
More Quantum Computing News and Quantum Computing Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.