– US government developing ultimate cyber weapon; Prime-factoring quantum computing makes encryption obsolete (Natural News, Aug 20, 2012)
The U.S. government is making steady progress on a game-changing technology that would give it the most powerful weapon ever devised in the realm of cyber warfare and information dominance. The weapon is called a “prime-factoring quantum computer,” and a small-scale version of the game-changing technology has already been demonstrated by researchers at UC Santa Barbara, where qubits — quantum bits of computational potential — factored the number 15 into its prime factors three and five.
So what, you say? Can’t any fifth grader do the same thing?
But hold on: Every digital encryption algorithm used today depends in the extreme mathematical difficulty of factoring (the prime numbers of) very large numbers. When you buy something on the internet, for example, your credit card number is sent to the merchant using something called “SSL encryption” which typically uses a 40-bit, 128-bit or sometimes even a 256-bit encryption algorithm. Anyone who might intercept your web form data would not be able to extract your credit card number unless they decrypted your encrypted data. This task requires extraordinary computing power.
For example, using “military grade” 512-bit encryption means that it would take a supercomputer longer than the age of the known universe to decrypt your file and expose your secrets. This is why the U.S. military uses such encryption. It’s virtually unbreakable given today’s computers.
But quantum computers have the spooky ability to process complex decryption algorithms using what some scientists believe are computational bits which coexist in an infinite number of parallel universes. You feed the quantum computer a decryption task, and it “calculates” the answer in all possible parallel universes. The correct answer then emerges in this universe, seemingly magically.
Quantum computing appears to break the laws of physics… yeah, it’s spookyAll this is very much a layman’s description of the phenomenon of quantum computing, by the way. Physicists will get into far more detail about how qubits might actually work… although technically, nobody really understands quantum computing. The key thing to understand about quantum computing is that a qubit can store its states of zero and one simultaneously. A collection of eight qubits can store 256 variations or “values” simultaneously, unlike a traditional silicon “bit” which can only store one of 256 values at a time.
The upshot of all this, mathematically speaking, is that instead of decryption algorithms being exponentially more complex as the number of encryption digits increases, qubits allow decryption algorithms to process the problem in so-called polynomial time, meaning the problem becomes exponentially easier to solve. (Or, technically, it doesn’t become exponentially harder to solve as the number of encryption digits increases.)
The upshot is that a computational problem which would have required longer than the age of the known universe can, with the help of a quantum computer, be accomplished in minutes or even seconds.
“…We’ve shown that we can run a version of Peter Shor’s prime factoring algorithm on a solid state quantum processor. This is really exciting and has never been done before,” said Erik Lucero, lead author of a paper outlining the success of quantum computer factoring.
Shor’s algorithm describes an efficient mathematical approach for integer factorization — the foundation of decryption algorithms. As Wikipedia explains: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shor%27s_algorithm)
If a quantum computer with a sufficient number of qubits were to be constructed, Shor’s algorithm could be used to break public-key cryptography schemes such as the widely used RSA scheme. RSA is based on the assumption that factoring large numbers is computationally infeasible. So far as is known, this assumption is valid for classical (non-quantum) computers; no classical algorithm is known that can factor in polynomial time. However, Shor’s algorithm shows that factoring is efficient on a quantum computer, so a sufficiently large quantum computer can break RSA. It was also a powerful motivator for the design and construction of quantum computers and for the study of new quantum computer algorithms.
Andrew Cleland, a physics professor who also worked on the project, added, “We just need to scale up the size of this processor to something much larger.” (http://phys.org/news/2012-08-ucsb-153×5.html)
Imagine a government that can break any code
That “scaling up” will be difficult, but its achievement is only a matter of time. Once it is achieved, this technology will almost certainly be classified as a “matter of national security” and control of the technology will be monopolized by the U.S. government.
The U.S. government, which already behaves like a criminal police state entity which respects no human rights, civil rights or even the Bill of Rights (http://www.naturalnews.com/034537_NDAA_Bill_of_Rights_Obama.html), will no doubt use this technology to expand its domination both domestically and internationally. The U.S. government absolutely despises anyone who leaks its own secrets — witness the attempted arrest and incarceration of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange (http://www.naturalnews.com/036864_Julian_Assange_Wikileaks_speech.htm…) — but the government is deeply interested in everyone else’s secrets, of course.
It is already public knowledge that the U.S. government, via the NSA, is spying on everyone’s email, web traffic, phone calls and search engine activity (http://www.naturalnews.com/036689_NSA_whistleblowers_spying.html). But right now, people and corporations which value privacy use encryption algorithms to send protected files to recipients. Even the common utility WinZip has an encryption component to protect files. (http://www.winzip.com/aes_info.htm)
Once the U.S. government achieves its quantum computer, it will be able to open all encrypted files in mere seconds, reading all the secrets of those who mistakenly think their files are impenetrable. This means citizens and corporations will have no ability to keep secrets from the government in the realm of digital information.
That’s why quantum computing will be used as a weapon by the government itself — a weapon that steals secrets which the government will then use to threaten or blackmail its way into positions of yet more power.
That’s what governments do, after all: Incessantly seek more power at any cost.
The end of VPNs
Another element no one is talking about here is the end of so-called “Virtual Private Networks” or VPNs. These are secure “tunnels” across the internet, where packets of data are passed publicly across the internet, but all such packets are encrypted. For example, I use a VPN to access the NaturalNews.com servers and control the web servers there.
Many corporations use VPNs to allow their employees to “telecommute” by working from home. Even the military uses VPNs throughout its command and control infrastructure.
Prime-factoring quantum computers make VPNs obsolete. There’s nothing “private” about a Virtual Private Network if the U.S. government can decrypt your encryption key in a matter of seconds. Suddenly, what used to be a secret is now being read by intelligence operatives in Langley.
Here’s something else you’ve probably never heard about: This prime-factoring computing power can be applied retroactively to files you or your company might be sending across the internet right now.
You see, the U.S. government is already saving all your emails in a massive storage system… and that data storage is about the take a quantum leap in capacity, if you’ll excuse the pun. A massive NSA “spy hub” is currently under construction in Utah and is expected to be completed by September, 2013. As WIRED reported: (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/)
“Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration.
Right now, in 2012, the government can’t brute-force decrypt your files because that would take longer than the age of the known universe. But the government can save your files and hold onto them until prime-factoring quantum computers become a reality — something that looks to be only years away. At that point, the government can then retroactively decrypt all the files it has been storing in its NSA data centers.
In other words, all the encrypted files you’re sending around right now — thinking they’re bulletproof in terms of security — will eventually be decrypted by the U.S. government with the help of a soon-to-exist quantum computer.
Right now, then, the government is capturing all email attachments and building a future “decryption queue” of files to be processed once the quantum computers are up and running. The scientists who are working on this project may think they’re advancing the cause of science, but what they’re actually doing is handing one of the world’s most dangerous governments the “ultimate information weapon” that can — and will — be used to crush freedom and dissent.
Prepare for a world with no privacy and no secrets
Imagine a world with no more secrets. That’s what the U.S. government wants. And with the aid of quantum computing, that world may soon become a reality.
We must all now ASSUME that whatever encrypted information or files we send across the internet today will be decrypted by the government within a few years.
Please plan accordingly.