NSA dreams of quantum computer that can break encryption

The National Security Agency is conducting what it calls “basic research” to determine whether it’s possible to build a quantum computer that would be useful for breaking encryption.

The news isn’t surprising—it would be surprising if the NSA wasn’t researching quantum computing given the measures it’s taken to undermine encryption standards used to protect Internet communications.The NSA’s quantum work was described in documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published today in the Washington Post. A three-page NSA document describes a project to “[c]onduct basic research in quantum physics and architecture/engineering studies to determine if, and how, a cryptologically useful quantum computer can be built.”

This is part of a $79.7 million research program called “Penetrating Hard Targets.” A project goal for fiscal 2013 was to “Demonstrate dynamical decoupling and complete quantum control on two semiconductor qubits,” the basic building block of a large-scale quantum computer. The NSA description of the program says the agency will “[c]ontinue research of quantum communications technology to support the development of novel Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) attacks and assess the security of new QKD system designs.”

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via Ars Technica http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/index/~3/cNR65r0xXTY/


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