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Quantum computing will significantly improve the speed at which conventional computers are processing today. How exactly? By changing our entire understanding of binary. All computing devices make use of the binary number system to store data, and programming code is just a human-friendly interface to create binary data. The basic unit of information used in conventional computing, a “bit” (or Binary Digit), can only be one of two states. Either one (1) or zero (0).
Quantum computers use quantum binary digits (qubits) as its basic unit of information. What makes qubits so astonishing is that by the quantum law of superposition it can be in either binary states of one or zero, and both one AND zero at the same. So, in short, a 2-bit computer will output 2 bits of information, but a 2 qubit computer will output 4 bits of information making the processing time exponentially faster.
While qubits can compute multiple states at once, only one of these states can be observed. And by use of quantum entanglement, when one qubit state is observed, its entangled partner would automatically assume its counter. In other words, both entangled qubits are in superposition, but if one of those qubits are observed as a binary 1, for instance, the other will automatically be observed as 0 by laws of entanglement. (Bear in mind this is a highly complex subject, but hopefully you get the gist).
Put simply, quantum computers can compute many different things at once, but only one of those things can be outputted—and its usually the best variant that is chosen as output. So for example, if the computer is presented with a problem which has 100 possible outcomes, but only 1 most preferable outcome, a quantum computer does not have to compute each of the 100 algorithms separately and compare the outcomes in order to establish which is the best, it computes all 100 outcomes simultaneously and outputs the best variant.
Imagine the impact that this could have on data security… If programmed correctly, quantum computers could wreak havoc if placed in the hands of a password-guessing cybercriminal. By using Shor’s algorithm for integer factorization, quantum computers can decrypt many of the cryptographic systems in use today. This could be potentially disastrous for cybersecurity and electronic privacy, and by the same token, it could make malicious use of cryptography (such as ransomware) obsolete. A double-edged sword. A powerful weapon, or defense mechanism. But, as with guns, Quantum Computers don’t kill things, people do.
Currently, quantum computers are too small and not coded well enough to break any real cryptographic algorithms, but many cryptographers are working on developing new algorithms for when quantum computers will actually become a real threat to data security. This highlights the upside of the development of quantum computers and the amazing, adaptable nature of the human mind when faced with challenges: quantum computers pose a threat to data security, so the response is post-quantum cryptography, a way to make encryption even stronger and more resilient.
This article barely scratches the surface of quantum computing, but rest assured, we will keep you informed regarding the possibilities and implications it could have for data storage and how we intend on keeping it safe.