Google hopes to thwart quantum computers from cracking today's Internet encryption

Google is testing out new cryptography that could future-proof Internet communications

The encryption methods used to secure today’s Internet communications won’t be impenetrable forever. More powerful “quantum computers” on the horizon could very well crack them.

That’s why Google is testing out new cryptography that computers in the future might not be able to break.

The processing power offered by "hypothetical, future" quantum computers could be enough to “decrypt any internet communication that was recorded today,” wrote Matt Braithwaite, a Google software engineer in a company blog post on Thursday.

This could affect the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol used when visiting websites. Old information, originally meant to be secured for decades, could suddenly become exposed, he added.

The quantum computers available today, however, are still small and experimental, but the tech industry has been moving closer to making them a mainstream reality.

They represent a leap over current computers, which rely on data represented as 0s and 1s. Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits that can simultaneously be both 0 and 1, which can help them run far more efficiently.

Regardless of when quantum computers arrive, Google still wants to prepare for the security risks posed by them.

To future-proof today’s Internet communications, the search giant will deploy what it’s calling “post-quantum cryptography” and will test it using its browser Chrome Canary.

The experiment will only cover a small fraction of the connections between the browser and Google’s servers, and be used on top of its current encryption algorithm.

In its test, Google is using a cryptography algorithm called “New Hope." However, the test will only last two years, and Google hopes it can replace the algorithm with something better.

“The post-quantum algorithm might turn out to be breakable even with today's computer,” Braithwaite wrote. “Alternatively, if the post-quantum algorithm turns out to be secure then it'll protect the connection even against a future, quantum computer."

Users of Chrome Canary can tell if the post-quantum algorithm is in use by checking the browser's security panel and looking for "CECPQ1" in the key exchange.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?