Aug 20, 2012

US government developing ultimate cyber weapon

The implications and science of this are quite staggering....

(NaturalNews) The U.S. government is making steady progress on a game-changing technology that would give it the most powerful weapon ever devised in the realm of cyber warfare and information dominance. The weapon is called a "prime-factoring quantum computer," and a small-scale version of the game-changing technology has already been demonstrated by researchers at UC Santa Barbara, where qubits -- quantum bits of computational potential -- factored the number 15 into its prime factors three and five.

So what, you say? Can't any fifth grader do the same thing?

But hold on: Every digital encryption algorithm used today depends in the extreme mathematical difficulty of factoring (the prime numbers of) very large numbers. When you buy something on the internet, for example, your credit card number is sent to the merchant using something called "SSL encryption" which typically uses a 40-bit, 128-bit or sometimes even a 256-bit encryption algorithm. Anyone who might intercept your web form data would not be able to extract your credit card number unless they decrypted your encrypted data. This task requires extraordinary computing power.

For example, using "military grade" 512-bit encryption means that it would take a supercomputer longer than the age of the known universe to decrypt your file and expose your secrets. This is why the U.S. military uses such encryption. It's virtually unbreakable given today's computers.

But quantum computers have the spooky ability to process complex decryption algorithms using what some scientists believe are computational bits which coexist in an infinite number of parallel universes. You feed the quantum computer a decryption task, and it "calculates" the answer in all possible parallel universes. The correct answer then emerges in this universe, seemingly magically.

Quantum computing appears to break the laws of physics... yeah, it's spooky

All this is very much a layman's description of the phenomenon of quantum computing, by the way. Physicists will get into far more detail about how qubits might actually work... although technically, nobody really understands quantum computing. The key thing to understand about quantum computing is that a qubit can store its states of zero and one simultaneously. A collection of eight qubits can store 256 variations or "values" simultaneously, unlike a traditional silicon "bit" which can only store one of 256 values at a time.

The upshot of all this, mathematically speaking, is that instead of decryption algorithms being exponentially more complex as the number of encryption digits increases, qubits allow decryption algorithms to process the problem in so-called polynomial time, meaning the problem becomes exponentially easier to solve. (Or, technically, it doesn't become exponentially harder to solve as the number of encryption digits increases.)

The upshot is that a computational problem which would have required longer than the age of the known universe can, with the help of a quantum computer, be accomplished in minutes or even seconds.

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