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A future quantum computer would be able to break current internet encryption, meaning anyone with that tool could hack into previous financial transactions, medical records and national security secrets. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on post-quantum cryptography that can stand up to an attack by a quantum computer.

  • Edward Parker, physical scientist at the RAND Corporation, said these computers could enable bad actors to read everything over the internet and that estimates of when that could happen vary widely.
  • NIST has selected four encryption algorithms out of submissions from the general public, and four alternates, one of which has been cracked. Parker said this is “concerning but not disastrous.”
  • The agency is asking the public to look for vulnerabilities in algorithms, said Parker. He recommends adding a financial incentive.

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February 2023
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