China allegedly made a breakthrough in protecting blockchains from quantum attacks

The new technology safeguards information transfer between financial institutions.
Christopher McFadden

According to the state-owned China News Service, the Chinese blockchain platform ChainMaker has been built with technology that can withstand assaults from both conventional and quantum computers.

A blockchain, in case you are unaware, is a digital ledger that keeps track of all transactions. 

According to the news agency, developers of the business blockchain, also known as Chang'An Chain, claimed the new technology safeguards information transfer between financial institutions, making online transactions safer.

The Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing designed the system, which was introduced in January of last year. It is China's first autonomous blockchain platform and was created in collaboration with universities such as Tsinghua and Beihang, as well as IT heavyweights like Tencent and Baidu.

According to the China News Service report, a post-quantum digital signature method has been added to the blockchain platform to protect it against assaults, including those by quantum computers, which might jeopardize the security of regular communications.

The Chinese blockchain uses some very smart algorithms to counter quantum threats

Like other blockchains, the digital list of records is maintained in blocks, each including the transaction time and date, and is meant to be difficult to update without being discovered.

Transactions involve the use of cryptographic hash functions or challenging math problems, as well as "proof-of-work" problems that validate each block that came before it to guarantee the list remains safe.

In 1994, US mathematician Peter Shor discovered that a quantum computer might be used to calculate the prime factors of large numbers. This lit the spark for the inevitable decline of conventional secure communications that utilize encryption based on computational complexity.

In response to this, classic cryptographic techniques, dubbed "post-quantum cryptography", as well as a quantum key distribution scheme, have been designed to fight possible quantum computer assaults.

To this end, the president of quantum tech company QuantumCTek told state-run China Science Daily that developing solutions to prevent quantum assaults is critical, even if a full-fledged quantum computer may take another eight to ten years to build.

On Monday, the company's director, Ying Yong, was cited as stating, "The cost of making amends will be huge – we should plan ahead." 

“Building a quantum secure communication network is an urgent matter. The denser the network, the better; and the denser it is, the more practical it becomes,” he added.

While blockchains are most widely utilized through peer-to-peer networks to verify decentralized data—generally for managing cryptocurrency, they are also used in China to verify contracts, health data, and other types of data. In fact, it is similar functions that are the real potential for the technology, rather than the plethora of digital coins that tend to dominate the news cycle. 

During the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year, ChainMaker said that its technology was utilized in carbon trading, supply chain financing, and food origin tracking.

According to the official Chinese broadcaster CCTV, the consortium said in June last year that it had installed a 96-core blockchain processor that makes signature verification 20 times quicker and smart contract processing 50 times faster on the network.

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