Blockchain, Quantum Experts Develop Framework to Keep Blockchain Secure from Quantum Computers
- A team of blockchain and quantum cryptology specialists is developing a framework for creating a quantum-secure blockchain.
- The team includes scientists from LACChain, Quantinuum, and Tecnologico de Monterrey.
- They published their findings, which cover a five-step process to ensure maximum protection, in Scientific Reports.
A team of blockchain and quantum cryptology specialists is developing a framework to help protect blockchain networks from attacks by hefty quantum computers, according to blog post about the findings.
The team, including scientists from LACChain, Quantinuum and Tecnologico de Monterrey, published their findings in Journal of Scientific Reports from Springer-Nature.
Quantum computers will present a significant challenge to blockchain, the decentralized digital ledger that records transactions in a secure and immutable manner.
According to the paper: “The rise of quantum computing threatens blockchain protocols and networks because they use non-quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms. When quantum computers become powerful enough to run Shor’s algorithms at scale, the most widely used asymmetric algorithms, which are used for digital signature and message encryption, such as RSA, (EC)DSA, and (EC)DH, will no longer be secure. Quantum computers will be able to crack it in no time.”
The team developed a five-step end-to-end framework that is compatible with most blockchain networks and requires no critical modification of the underlying protocol to add a post-quantum cryptographic layer to counter quantum computer attacks. The joint team has also developed a scalable implementation for an Ethereum-based network that has been deployed on LACChain, which uses Hyperledger Besu as the blockchain protocol.
The steps include:
- Using Quantum Origin as a centralized source of entropy. We also detail how entropy is provided to each node using a quantum-secure connection based on KEM’s McEliece keypair exchange. Our use of quantum entropy was pioneering in the literature.
- Uses quantum entropy at each node3 to generate Falcon keys and post-quantum X.509 certificates.
- Use nodes to leverage their post-quantum X.509 certificates with Falcon-512 public keys to build quantum-resistant TLS tunnels.
- Uses the node’s Falcon-512 post-quantum key to sign every transaction broadcast to the network.
Marcos Allende Lopez, CTO of LACChain and leader of this work said, “Right now the blockchain community is focused on pressing needs such as scalability and interoperability. However, given that there are trillions of dollars in value stored in blockchain networks and according to the Boston Consulting Group, tokenization is expected to be a $16 trillion market by 2030, it would be irresponsible not to have a plan to protect the decentralized ledger from attack by quantum. a computer that will be able to find private keys and steal assets. While it is uncertain when hefty quantum computers will be ready to achieve that, it makes perfect sense that these machines were used surreptitiously at first to strategically hack without being seen.”
The researchers also describe an open-source development that offers three alternatives for blockchain verification of transactions signed with a post-quantum signature NIST-compliant Falcon-512: implementing a verification code in Solidity which is – to our knowledge – the first smart contract capable of verifying post-quantum signature, apply solidity instructions in the Solc compiler and the appropriate EVM opcodes, and refactor EVM Java opcodes from the EVM virtual machine into precompiled contracts.
Professor Salvador E. Venegas-Andraca, from Tecnologico de Monterrey, comments: “Quantum technology is a give and take discipline: on the one hand, quantum computers along with Shor’s algorithms will eventually become vulnerabilities to public key cryptographic protocols and others. technologies used in digital data protection. On the other hand, we can use quantum technology to improve data security today and in the future. The latter is indeed the essence of our paper: using quantum technology to protect current and future blockchains from quantum attacks.”
Duncan Jones, Head of Cybersecurity at Quantinuum, added: “The most valuable digital assets demand the highest level of security. By combining a quantum-secure algorithm with the quantum-hardened keys of our Quantum Origin platform, this work represents a significant security enhancement for blockchain systems.”
The team is now looking to work with the Ethereum community and Hyperledger on the further development of a quantum-secure blockchain.