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NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption
From: InfoSec News <alerts () infosecnews org>
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2014 09:07:32 +0000 (UTC)
By Steven Rich and Barton Gellman
The Washington Post
January 2, 2014
In room-size metal boxes secure against electromagnetic leaks, the
National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break
nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business
and government records around the world.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden,
the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a
machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7
million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the
work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park,
The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the
scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as
medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such
technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken,
including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to
protect state secrets.
Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated about whether the
NSA’s efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs.
Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the
documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success
than others in the scientific community.
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- NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption InfoSec News (Jan 03)