[Resource Topic] 2021/967: Assessment of Quantum Threat To Bitcoin and Derived Cryptocurrencies

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Assessment of Quantum Threat To Bitcoin and Derived Cryptocurrencies

Authors: Stephen Holmes, Liqun Chen


All cryptocurrencies are not the same. Today, they share a common quantum vulnerability through use of non-quantum safe Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) digital signatures yet they have very different risks of quantum attack. The risk of attack for a cryptocurrency depends on a number of identified factors such as the block interval time, the vulnerability to an attack that delays the time for an unprocessed transaction to be completed and the behaviour of a cryptocurrency user to increase the cost of a quantum computer attack. Shor’s algorithm can be used to break ECDSA signatures with a quantum computer. This research addresses the two questions: When will a quantum computer be powerful enough to execute Shor’s algorithm? How fast would a quantum computer need to be to break a specific cryptocurrency? In this paper we observe that by benchmarking the speed of circuits and the time for quantum addition on quantum computers we can determine when there is a potential threat to a specific cryptocurrency.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2021/967

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