NSA secretly funds quantum computing research, Washington Post says

The NSA is funding quantum computing work that it hopes will allow it to break virtually any encryption used today, The Washington Post reports – although there is no sign that he has managed to solve the puzzle better than any other company or agency working on the same. Leaks from Edward Snowden reveal a $ 79.7 million research program called “Penetrating Hard Targets,” including classified funding to research a quantum computer that could be used for cryptography. the To post says much of the research is done at the University of Maryland’s physical science lab, but little is revealed about the program, including how far quantum computing work has actually progressed.

Quantum computing relies, very largely, on allowing individual bits (called qubits) to contain overlapping values ​​of zero and one, dramatically increasing computing power. Its implications for cryptography, medicine, and research have made it a major focus for utilities and private industry: DARPA has devoted years of funding to research in quantum computing, and Google has launched its own “Lab. of quantum artificial intelligence “last year. But while qubits have been stored for a limited period under certain conditions, and specialized machines have been built using quantum technology, this is not enough for practical decoding applications. Last year, for example,The Economist everything but ruled out the possibility that the NSA has a quantum computer ready for cryptography.

The NSA program, which is part of the larger “Black Budget” intelligence community, actually doesn’t ask anyone to build a quantum computer. According to the memo, it asks researchers to “conduct fundamental quantum physics research and architectural / engineering studies to determine if, and how, a cryptographically useful quantum computer can be built.” So while the grant is in line with the overall mission of the NSA – and quantum computing may one day pose a real threat to current encryption methods – it is much more theoretical than the agency’s ability to, say , sowing malware on computers miles away.

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