The Doppler Quarterly Spring 2019 - Page 29

A look at how quantum technology differs from current computing, why it’s driving so much interest and the security implications. Quantum computing isn’t brand new, but it is generating quite a bit of interest these days. The concept dates back to the 1980s, when a pair of researchers showed how a computer with an advanced computational engine could simulate things a classical com- puter could not. Fast forward to 2019, and quantum computing is all over the headlines. Groups are holding conferences across the U.S. Tech companies are investing millions in their quantum efforts. Even the government is getting involved, approving a National Quantum Initiative Act that sets aside $1.2 billion for quantum research over the next five years. How does quantum technology differ from current, classical computing? Why is it driv- ing so much interest? And how do advances in the technology impact the security strat- egies of organizations? Quantum computing is not intended to replace current computing formats. Because of the characteristics that grant it its special properties, quantum machines are not useful for carrying out many of the everyday tasks classical computers perform. Quantum computers are more suited to breaking digital ciphers, factoring large prime numbers and working on problems that have multiple possible solutions. Additionally, there is an increase in the security of digital transmissions when using quantum techniques or cryptography. Quantum cryptography harnesses several of the properties of quantum mechanics to send messages securely. If a third party were to intercept the information during the creation of the secret key, the process would alter itself, so that the system would reveal the intruder before any information could be sent. More importantly, quantum cryptography makes use of a property called entanglement, which can be used to send information safely without a means of transmission. This is because qubits, or quantum bits, can be linked into a single quantum system, and oper- ating on one affects the rest of the system. In this way, the computer can harness the processing power of qubits simultaneously, massively increasing its computational ability. SPRING 2019 | THE DOPPLER | 27