New updates make Google Chrome 'quantum apocalypse-proof'

To make Google Chrome future-proof, Google is implementing some changes that should, they believe, prepare it for the coming "quantum apocalypse."
Christopher McFadden
Google is preparing Chrome for the coming "quantum apocalypse."


Google is preparing its flagship Chrome browser for the coming "quantum apocalypse," the tech giant says in a blog post. While still largely theoretical, quantum computers should be orders of magnitude more powerful than classical computers and so could, in theory, best-existing encryption with ease. To this end, experts warn, steps must be taken to counter this emerging threat to cybersecurity.

Coming "quantum apocalypse"

The effectiveness of security technology, The Independent reports, largely hinges on mathematical problems that are difficult enough for computers to solve, ensuring the security of data. However, the advent of quantum computers could pose a major threat by quickly solving these problems and accessing data, which experts call the "quantum apocalypse." As a result, post-quantum cryptography has emerged to develop new strategies for securing data in the event of this potential future threat.

Google has implemented some of its research in Chrome, introducing new cryptography that can withstand future attempts by quantum computers. This technology utilizes a hybrid of two cryptographic algorithms called X25519Kyber768. The integration of this technology ensures that data is secured by both a reliable algorithm and one that is immune to quantum computers.

This, Google explains, is a hybrid mechanism that "combines the output of two cryptographic algorithms to create the session key used to encrypt the bulk of the TLS connection."

According to Google's blog post, it comprises the following algorithms:

  • X25519 – an elliptic curve algorithm widely used for key agreement in TLS today

  • Kyber-768 – a quantum-resistant Key Encapsulation Method and NIST’s PQC winner for general encryption

"In order to identify ecosystem incompatibilities with this change, we are rolling this out to Chrome and to Google servers, over both TCP and QUIC, and monitoring for possible compatibility issues. Chrome may also use this updated key agreement when connecting to third-party server operators, such as Cloudflare, as they add support," explains Google.

The updates are part of broader work across Google to “prepare the web for the migration to quantum-resistant cryptography.”

Google's technical program manager for Chrome security, Devon O'Brien, emphasized the importance of data security in the Google blog post. While acknowledging that quantum computers may not be a reality for decades, O'Brien stressed that safeguarding data today is crucial to prevent it from being compromised when the technology does emerge.

Future-proofing Chrome

“It’s believed that quantum computers that can break modern classical cryptography won’t arrive for 5, 10, possibly even 50 years from now, so why is it important to start protecting traffic today? The answer is that certain uses of cryptography are vulnerable to a type of attack called Harvest Now, Decrypt Later, in which data is collected and stored today and later decrypted once cryptanalysis improves," explained O'Brien.

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