Since the beginning of the internet there has been a constant threat of the lack of security. It seems that whenever a new revolutionary software appears, that is supposed to be invincible, sooner or later a malicious, tech savvy individual will eventually find the software Achilles’ heel and will prove it wrong. It is not always the case that when such an event happens, happens for the wrong reasons. More often it happens because human nature is used to challenges and for a hacker, the most renowned security software represents the ultimate challenge. More than once hackers have retrieved sensible information to raise awareness (as the Wikileaks case) or the expose certain truths or even for charity. If there is enough will and determination anything can be achieved, and this goes both for security software producers as well as for hackers.
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Security concerning the everyday user has made lots of progress over the past few years. When we talk about regular internet users and cyber-attacks we immediately think of email accounts, credit cards information and other personal information. Statistics show that in the past couple of years there have been less and less fraud victims due to technological progress but also due to an anti-fraud education. It has been proven that from the victims of internet scams, frauds and personal information theft the number one cause is human error. Whether PCI compliant merchants do not respect the guidelines or whether we forget our email account signed in on a public computer or whether we are gullible enough to believe that an Nigerian prince needs our help to move his fortune, we are actually the victims of our own stupidity, naivety and cheapness. These are the true breaches in the human security level which allow hackers to take advantage of our finances and personal information. On the other hand when it comes to the implementation of new technologies, there will always be some troubles at the beginning of the implementation. For example, the mobile payment service, although it isn’t the latest technological achievement it still poses various issues due to a lack of harmonization of the laws that govern this field, and due to the fact that the parties involved do not know precisely their rights and obligations. The Google Wallet illustrates this best; Google employees noticed a breach in the security system and called off this service for a while.
So what is the future of internet security? There are some voices which claim that quantum security is the next step. As you may or may not know the current trend is to build processors with smaller and smaller circuits so that more could fit in one processor, and thus the speed would increase. Well what happens when we shrink the circuits so much that they reach an atomic level? At this point nothing we learned in school about computers and software applies anymore, we have to think at Quantum Level. For a better understanding imagine that computers today are like a rubric cube with 3 lines whereas a quantum computer would have 9 lines. The power of a quantum computer would be enough to decrypt all the information from the internet in one day. At this point, the rules of internet security today would become a child’s play for a quantum computer.
If we were to have a quantum computer today, we would be able to crack and decrypt all the encrypted sensitive data that is being passed out in millions of numbers over the Internet today! Quantum computers can process data in fraction of a second, which present day computers would take thousands of years to process!! So while weather reports might get highly accurate when calculated using quantum computing, the present day Internet security would simply vanish if quantum computers get attached to the Internet. Guessing the private key described above would be a child’s play to quantum computers.
The future of internet security is quantum security. New tools and new perceptions will have to be developed if we want to operate with quantum security because the main principle is that uncertainty exists in all measurements of quantum mechanics and is a fundamental aspect of the quantum mechanical universe. The most interesting thing to remember is that in today’s world internet security relies on the incapability of computers to calculate and break the encryption key by calculating all the possibilities while on the other hand, quantum security will rely on detecting possible threats and isolating that threat.