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Quantum computers could crack Bitcoin by 2022…

Quantum computers could one day be used to crack the encryption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. And that day could come sooner than anticipated.

By Robert Stevens

In brief

  • A 4,000 qubit quantum computer could, theoretically, crack Bitcoin’s encryption in a matter of seconds.
  • The current generation of quantum computers max out at 54 qubits.
  • A quantum computer capable of cracking Bitcoin’s encryption could be just two years away.

If you had a powerful enough computer, you could, theoretically, take control of the Bitcoin block-chain. You could credit your account with free Bitcoin or prevent others from making transactions. Since the private key to each wallet can be derived from a public key, you could access the Bitcoin wallet of whomever you wished. The keys to the $163 billion castle would be yours—of course, in that scenario, Bitcoin’s price would surely plummet as soon as its claims of invulnerability were found to be baseless.
Whereas even the most powerful supercomputer would take thousands of years to crack Bitcoin, there are machines that could, theoretically, do so in a matter of seconds. These ultra-fast devices are called quantum computers.

And they’re real—currently in development by some of the finest minds on the planet.

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