NSA secretly funding code-breaking quantum computer research

Quantum computing hinges, very broadly, on allowing individual bits (called qubits) to contain superimposed values of zero and one, vastly increasing computing power. Its implications for cryptography, medicine, and research have made it a major goal for public services and private industry alike: DARPA has devoted years of funding to quantum computing research, and Google launched its own “Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab” last year.

But while qubits have been stored for a limited period of time under certain conditions, and specialized machines have been built using quantum technology, that’s not enough for practical code-breaking applications. Last year, for example,The Economist all but ruled out the possibility that the NSA had a crypto-ready quantum computer.

The NSA’s program, part of the larger intelligence community “Black Budget,” doesn’t actually task anybody with building a quantum computer. According to the memo, it asks researchers to “conduct basic research in quantum physics and architecture/engineering studies to determine if, and how, a cryptographically useful quantum computer can be built.” So while the grant fits with the NSA’s general mission — and quantum computing could one day pose a real threat to present-day encryption methods — it’s a lot more theoretical than the agency’s ability to, say, seed malware to computers from miles away.

NSA Quantum

You can read the original article here.