Bitcoin Security Could Be Vulnerable to New Quantum Computers in 2023

Fujitsu and Riken research institute, Japanese tech multinationals are expected to jointly launch a potential Bitcoin-beating quantum computer to companies in 2023.

The computer, significantly more powerful than Frontier, the world’s fastest supercomputer built by Hewlett-Packard, is expected to be used initially for financial forecasting and developing new medicines.

Fujitsu’s new computer will use so-called superconductor materials that exhibit zero electrical resistance when cooled to near a temperature known as “absolute zero.” 

“Quantum computing has the potential to change the world on a massive level. You can solve problems in molecular dynamics, in finance, in medicine,” said Fujitsu CEO Vivek Mahajan in an Oct. 14, 2022 interview with CNBC

According to Mahajan, quantum computers could potentially solve mathematical optimization problems like Shor’s algorithm or the so-called traveling salesman problem. It could solve other problems deemed too difficult for even supercomputers. Shor’s algorithm uses quantum technology to guess the prime factors of technology. While the traveling salesman problem attempts to find the shortest route that can be taken to visit every city connected by a local highway system, and then return to the starting point.

While companies like Google have made significant strides in developing their own supercomputer, it only sees the commercialization potential of its machine in 2029, which could give Fujitsu a head start. 

Fujitsu’s computer has 64 “qubits,” the basic unit of information in a quantum computer, compared to Google’s 53. 

Fujitsu heading up Bitcoin’s quantum threat

P2P exchange LocalBitcoins, as well as a 2022 academic paper from Sussex University have cautioned that quantum computers could break the SHA256 algorithm used in the Bitcoin network. 

Miners in a proof-of-work blockchain system like Bitcoin compete to find a numerical solution to the SHA256 algorithm that beats a network target known as the difficulty. Miners perform so-called hashing operations on the header of a Bitcoin transaction block and a random number. Using the SHA256 algorithm, to obtain a numerical solution that follows a certain…