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An Ottawa workshop warns quantum computing — and its ability to break code — may be closer than we think

Hackers are having a field day, major corporations are reporting huge data breaches almost every day, CSOs are pulling their hair out trying to keep networks secure.

What could be worse for IT security?

Computing taking another technological leap forward, that’s what.

At a workshop in Ottawa this week, some leading researchers who have been working on quantum computing said thinking has advanced enough to believe there is a credible threat to the current state-of-the-art in information security.

Briefly, the worry is someone soon is going to be able to put together a system using quantum principles that can unravel the cryptographic algorithms that protect everything from credit cards to government security codes.

“For a quantum computer some of these problems are trivial,” Mark Pecen, technology industry consultant and a founder of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing and a co-author of a paper presented at the session, said in an interview from the conference Tuesday.

With the right system, solving discrete logarithm problems – used in some public key cryptography products – would be a walk in the park.

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