Quantum computing and AI advancements in the hands of hackers pose significant security challenges

Artificial intelligence, quantum computing and the laws of encryptionDATAQUEST

By Parnian Najafi Borazjani

The last decade has seen several science and technology breakthroughs. From self-driving cars to 3D-printing, clean energy technologies to artificial intelligence assistants, progress has been swift. While some technologies take decades to become useful, others disrupt quickly. In 2019, two major technologies have been making headlines but aren’t being taken very seriously – artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing (QC). These technologies would change the nature of cyber attacks. Artificial intelligence can be used to not only probe but also to specifically tailor attacks against organizations and other targets. We’ve already seen some instances of AI used to copy the voice and mannerisms of a person to create something that looks and sounds as though the real person said it called “deep fakes”.

Quantum computing took off in the early 90s and is now emerging as the next generation of computing. Operations that take hours and days, will happen in seconds with quantum power. With that technology, the scaling of computations goes up dramatically, to the point where the time needed for breaking traditional encryption would shrink to weeks, or maybe even minutes. This means breaking some of the foundational encryption we see in use today. The estimates for when QC will really take off range anywhere from 5 to 20 years. One thing we do know, however, is that QC has the potential to completely transform the cyber threat landscape.