Google announced Thursday that it is experimenting with post-quantum cryptography with Chrome that it hopes will prevent quantum hacking.
The new style of encryption key is already being tested alongside current security measures over a small number of connections between Chrome and Google's servers. According to a blog post written by Google’s software engineer Matt Braithwaite, the key if successful should stand up to future large quantum computers.
Quantum computers, which use certain aspects of quantum physics, are capable of solving problems much faster than our present-day binary computers. These computers can also easily crack our current secure digital connections. However, the quantum computers currently in existence are small and experimental.
According to Braithwaite, it cannot be said with certainty that large quantum computers will be built but he added that Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel are each working on building one.
“If large quantum computers can be built then they may be able to break the asymmetric cryptographic primitives that are currently used in TLS, the security protocol behind HTTPS,” he wrote. “A hypothetical, future quantum computer would be able to retrospectively decrypt any internet communication that was recorded today, and many types of information need to remain confidential for decades.”
Google is using the “New Hope” post-quantum algorithm developed by Erdem Alkim, Léo Ducas, Thomas Pöppelmann and Peter Schwabe for the experiment, which is currently enabled in Chrome Canary.
The new post-quantum encryption has been added on top of the existing security measures so that in event of the post-quantum algorithm turning out to be breakable, the existing security measures would still keep the user’s data safe.
“We explicitly do not wish to make our selected post-quantum algorithm a de-facto standard. To this end we plan to discontinue this experiment within two years, hopefully by replacing it with something better,” Braithwaite wrote.