If today’s cryptography protocols were to fail, it would be impossible to secure online connections — to send confidential messages, make secure financial transactions, or authenticate data. Anyone could access anything; anyone could pretend to be anyone. The digital economy would collapse.
When (or if) a fully functional quantum computer becomes available, that’s precisely what could happen. As a result, in 2017 the U.S. government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched an international competition to find the best ways to achieve “post-quantum” cryptography.
Last month, the agency selected its first group of winners: four protocols that, with some revision, will be deployed as a quantum shield. It also announced four additional candidates still under consideration.
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