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China reportedly planning to use quantum computers to decrypt stolen data

Google's Sycamore Quantum Computer
(Image credit: Eric Lucero/Google, Inc.)

Chinese threat groups will soon go about canvassing for encrypted data that they’ll hoard in the hopes of eventually decrypting it with quantum computers, a new report has claimed.

Booz Allen Hamilton has looked into the practical importance of quantum computing which comes barely a week after the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security added 27 companies to its list of entities prohibited from doing business with the US, including eight Chinese firms that dabble with quantum computing, on grounds they threaten national security.

“By the end of the 2020s, Chinese threat groups will likely collect data that enables quantum simulators to discover new economically valuable materials, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Quantum-assisted AI [Artificial Intelligence], meanwhile, is unlikely to emerge or influence adversary behavior in the foreseeable future,” suggests the report.

Long-term intelligence

The report offers a detailed analysis of the development of quantum computing, while comparing them against specific Chinese advancements, which leads it to conclude that China has emerged as a major player in quantum computing. 

It argues that one of the areas where it’ll use its quantum computing advantage is espionage, saying that in the 2020s it’ll likely increasingly steal data that could be used to feed quantum simulations.

Despite its quantum computing edge, the firm believes that it’s highly unlikely that China will be able to develop the ability to break current generation encryption with quantum computers before the end of the decade. 

However, this shouldn’t stand in the way of encrypted data with intelligence longevity, like biometric markers, covert intelligence officer and source identities, Social Security numbers, and weapons’ designs, which are some of the encrypted data that the country might look to steal for the long term.

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.