The only problem is that quantum computers have not been invented yet so we will have to take Microsoft’s word on it that its encryption is safe.
Quantum computers deliver immense power that would be useful in many fields—but potentially break the strongest forms of encryption.
Microsoft research voles claim to have upgraded the encryption protocol that secures the Web to resist attacks from quantum computers.
Governments and computing giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Google are working on quantum computers because tapping subtle effects of quantum physics should let them solve in seconds some problems that a conventional machine couldn’t solve in billions of years.
Kryata Svore, who leads a research group working on software for quantum computers at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, says this was more than just an academic exercise.
“Given that scalable quantum computers are under development, it is crucial to prepare,” she said. “It can take a decade or more for a new cryptographic algorithm—or “primitive”—to be properly tested out and widely deployed, she says. “There is an urgent need to determine other primitives now.”
Surely this is just a matter of bringing in a few footballers.
The new quantum-proof version of TLS generates encryption keys using a different mathematical problem that’s believed to be beyond the practical reach of both conventional and quantum computers.
That system was tested by using it to encrypt data moving between two PCs, one taking the role of a Web browser and the other a Web server.
The quantum-proof encryption protocol moved data 21 percent more slowly than a version using elliptic curve cryptography, as some websites do today, but the researchers consider that penalty a reasonable one to pay if their idea is polished up for real-world use.