Queensland brains crack the code of 3×5
Any high-school student can tell you the prime factors of 15 are 3 and 5.
But if that student could tell you the prime factors of a number hundreds of digits long, they could crack the “RSA” encryption that underpins privacy and security on the internet, from online banking to confidential government emails.
A team of researchers at Queensland University has recently set a world-first benchmark using a quantum computer to find the prime factors of 15. It is a “baby step” on a path to smashing the science of cryptography.
“There’s a hell of a long way to go – we have created the world’s most boring, simplest quantum computer,” says Professor Andrew White of the university’s physics department. “But if I was encrypting things I still wanted to be secret in 20 years’ time – now I would worry.
“We don’t think we will threaten cryptography any time soon. But we are very excited about this demonstration: there is a path to scalability, to developing a computer that can solve problems impossible on a classical computer.”
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