药品安全问题频发,开启第三方服务市场会是好办法吗?丨链得得独家

11月1日,国家药监局印发《关于药品信息化追溯体系建设的指导意见》。从药品上市许可持有人和生产企业,到药品零售和使用单元,都要求对“码”的索取。指导意见的出台,正式开启了第三方服务市场,而区块链的“溯源”、“不可篡改”等技术将大有可为。

因狂犬疫苗造假事件被调查的上市公司长生生物,被国家药品监督管理局和吉林省食品药品监督管理局罚没91亿元,公司直接负责的主管人员高俊芳等人不仅被逮捕,还被终身市场禁入,自疫苗案爆发以来,长生生物股价连续32个跌停,创下A股市场的跌停记录,目前公司总市值已经缩水超过200亿,而股票代码已经从“ST长生”变更为“*ST长生”,退市的结局或难以避免。


这一恶性事件的爆发再次将“药品安全”问题推向舆论制高点。如何保证药品从生产、经营、使用的全过程安全。


11月1日,国家药监局印发《关于药品信息化追溯体系建设的指导意见》,《意见》提出,药品上市许可持有人、生产企业、经营企业、使用单位通过信息化手段建立药品追溯系统,形成互联互通药品追溯数据链,实现药品生产、流通和使用全过程来源可查、去向可追;药品生产、流通和使用等环节共同建成覆盖全过程的药品追溯系统。


这份指导意见直接指出了“一物一码、物码同追”的溯源体系建设。要求药品上市许可持有人、生产企业、经营企业、使用单位及药品监管部门建立药品信息化追溯系统。紫云股份董事长罗建辉告诉链得得作者,“一物一码、物码同追”的意义在于对于药品的追溯不仅追溯码的流向,还要追溯物流轨迹,只有物流轨迹和码的流向一致,才能形成医药供应链的闭合,从而杜绝假药进入到合法渠道进行销售。


在指导意见稿中写道,药品上市许可持有人、生产企业、经营企业、使用单位是药品质量安全的责任主体,负有追溯义务。意味着在产业链中每一个单元的追溯体系的建立成为一个“标准”。


链得得读完这份指导意见后感觉到最明显的一个词就是“完整性”。从药品上市许可持有人和生产企业,到药品零售和使用单元,都要求对“码”的索取。而指导意见的出台,也正式开启了第三方服务市场。

指导意见给出更好的环境支撑


在这份指导文件中,有重要的一点不可忽视,那就是“药品追溯各相关方应从制度上、技术上保证药品追溯数据真实、准确、完整、不可篡改和可追溯。”。而在“不可篡改”的要求中,区块链具有着天然优势。


此外,追溯的过程是对行业内数据共享的要求,罗建辉说道:“整个文件,可以概括为‘一个方向三个全面’,一个方向是一物一码、物码同追,三个全面是全品种、全流通、全共享。”


过去,一个企业要对接很多的平台。而在区块链的数据共享方式下,这个复杂度将大大降低。通过在区块链的联盟链平台上形成一个数据库后,企业只需一个接口就可以对接到这个平台,从而大大降低技术架构的成本并提高数据利用率。同时,上传到区块链的数据还可以保证其信息安全,而不会像过去所有的数据集中在单一公司的手中。


而在这份文件中也指出,鼓励信息技术企业作为第三方技术机构,为药品上市许可持有人、生产企业、经营企业、使用单位提供药品追溯信息技术服务。所以,以区块链技术为底层的溯源平台将在这份指导意见下有更好的环境支撑。

溯源标准正在研讨制定


“市场上很多的溯源平台,但更多的只是物流信息的展示,根本没有办法保证‘货真价实’。”一位医药行业的分析师告诉链得得,对于企业来讲,产品溯源是一个前期投入高且维护成本高的事情。而市面上众多的溯源平台没有拥有自主知识产权的绝对竞争力,水平参差不齐。


罗建辉告诉链得得,传统的追溯平台最大的弊端在于实现医药供应链的完整闭环,它只实现了一物一码,但并没有实现物码同追,而且容易造成企业信息的泄露。此外,物码分离的情况,也导致了药品追溯无法发挥实际的意义。


而现阶段需要用区块链去建立起“全品种、全流通、全共享”的联盟链,从生产到药店按照统一的业务标准完成数据上传,实现整个数据的可追溯。


在此次意见稿中,第一个工作任务就是“编制统一信息化追溯标准”。国家药品监督管理局规划确立药品信息化追溯标准体系,明确基本要求,发布追溯体系建设指南、统一药品追溯编码要求、数据及交换标准。链得得了解到,制定溯源标准的课题已经由上海复旦大学中标,接下来将组织全国专家来制定这个课题的标准。

第三方服务商与时间的角逐


药监局对于溯源体系的指导意见正式开启了第三方服务市场。因此对于药品生产企业来讲,受限于技术门槛和前期的成本投入,优秀的第三方服务商将在这个环境的支持下逐渐展露头角。


9月底,复旦大学附属华山医院携手蚂蚁金服,推出了全国首个区块链电子处方。在处方药开出的那一刻起就开始“盖戳”,线上开药、线上配药、送药、签收药,都会被盖上一个“戳”,这些“戳”不可篡改、全程可相互印证及追溯,患者可以放心收药,而不必再担心处方在流转过程中被篡改。


此前,腾讯加入全国医药行业区块链联盟,通过自主开发的区块链平台BaaS与新三板企业紫云股份开启医药溯源的推进工作。而就最近公告,紫云股份已经和国际疫苗企业进口重要进口商科园信海(北京)医疗用品贸易有限公司(以下简称“科园贸易”)签署合作,以完成疫苗的全追溯,双方第一个试点项目将从辉瑞肺炎疫苗开始,而科园贸易与辉瑞、葛兰素史克有非常深厚的合作关系。


国务院此前发布《关于加快推进重要产品追溯体系建设的意见》提出,到2020年,初步建成全国上下一体、协同运作的重要产品追溯管理体制、统一协调的追溯标准体系和追溯信息服务体系。在仅剩的1年多时间里,这个迫在眉睫的问题将催生出更大的市场需求。(本文独家首发链得得App

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Tron (TRX) Price Analysis – November 7

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Tron (TRX) Price Analysis – November 7

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TRX, TRXUSD, Cryptocompare chartTron Chart by TradingView

TRX/USD Medium-term Trend: Bullish

Supply zones: $0.02800, $0.02900, $0.03000
Demand zones: $0.01700, $0.01600, $0.01500

TRX is in a bullish trend in its medium-term outlook. Ever since breaking out of the descending channel on 2nd of November, the bulls had kept pushing TRXUSD to new daily highs and lows. $0.02487 in the supply area was the high it attained yesterday, 6th November while $0.02378 in the demand area was the low on the same day.

The formation of a bearish long-tailed 4-hour opening candle at $0.02470 signalled a possible trend reversal as the bears gradually returned. Increased bearish momentum led to a drop TRXUSD price to $0.02418 in the demand area.

The current bear pressure is a pullback which is most expected for correction before the resumption of uptrend continuation. The price is within the 23.6 fib level and above the two EMAs. The stochastic oscillator is in the overbought region as 78% and its signal point down which suggests downward price movement due to the bears’ pressure. 38.2 fib level may be tested as the bearish momentum increases before the bulls resume their upward journey in the medium-term.

TRX/USD Short-term Trend: Bullish

TRX, TRXUSD, Cryptocompare chartTron Chart by TradingView

The cryptocurrency is in a bullish trend in its short-term outlook.  The ascending channel capture the TRXUSD price pattern in the short-term. After yesterday’s touch at the upper line of the channel at $0.02487, a bounce to the downside took TRXUSD to $0.02429 in the demand area before the close of the session. The bears’ pressure remains strong within the channel despite a brief upside move to $0.02508 in the supply area after today’s opening. The drop of TRXUSD to $0.02416 in the demand area which is the lower line of the channel was due to the bears’ pressure.

A bounce to the upside is expected as the bull’s momentum builds up. Price may be heading to the upper line of the channel in the short-term.

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed here do not reflect that of CryptoGlobe.com and do not constitute financial advice. Always do your own research.

Pro-Bitcoin Congressman Jared Polis is Colorado’s New Governor

U.S. Representative Jared Polis, known for his favorable attitudes towards cryptocurrency and blockchain, will become Colorado’s next governor after defeating Walker Stapleton.


U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), who has made headlines for his pro-cryptocurrency and blockchain stances, has defeated Colorado state Treasurer Walker Stapleton to become the new governor.

Governor-elect Polis has become well-known across the cryptocurrency world for his interest and support of the industry.

Part of his campaign platform focused on the benefits of blockchain for companies in Colorado. He has also worked in the halls of Congress on industry-friendly endeavors.

Touting the Benefits of Blockchain

Bitcoinist has previously reported on the blockchain aspect of Polis’ gubernatorial platform. In the summer, Polis published a few action steps on his campaign website that detailed ideas of blockchain integration into state affairs.

Polis looks to collaborate with Colorado officials and use blockchain technology to improve municipal and county elections. He also aims to build a “statewide safe harbor designed to exempt cryptocurrencies from state money transmissions laws.”

According to Polis, this idea and its associated legislation would protect “open blockchain tokens.” This could help Colorado entice innovative companies to move to the state and engage freely “without the licensing requirements of the multitude of securities and currency laws.”

Other policy ideas included the exploration of blockchain-based energy solutions, along with the possible use of public ledgers to foster transparency for government records.

Polis emphasized how his overall goal was to “establish Colorado as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government.”

A Crusader in Congress

Before focusing his time on running for governor, Polis was a staunch and vocal advocate for cryptocurrency and blockchain during his time as a U.S. Representative.

Back in 2014, the then-Congressman called for a ban on the U.S. Dollar in a satirical response to a letter from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who called for a Bitcoin ban.

Polis was also a co-founder of the Congressional Blockchain Congress, which is described as being dedicated to “[…] the advancement of sound public policy toward blockchain-based technologies and digital currencies.” The entity was officially announced in February 2017.

Late last year, Polis, alongside Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act of 2017.

The idea of the legislation was to allow consumers to “make small purchases with cryptocurrency up to $600 without burdensome reporting requirements, according to a news release from Polis’ office.

The Act was offered as an amendment to the House tax reform bill in mid-November but was not adopted.

Is Jared Polis’ congressional victory a win for Bitcoin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Jared Polis (Facebook), Twitter

Blockchain Wallet is Giving Away $125 Million Worth of Stellar Lumens

Cryptocurrency wallet provider Blockchain.com has launched full support for altcoin Stellar (XLM), which will be followed by an airdrop of $125 million worth of XLM to its user base, the company announced in a blog post on November 6, 2018.

Stellar Foundation to Airdrop $150 Million in XLM

In celebration of adding full support for XLM in the Blockchain Wallet, and reaching 30 million users, the Blockchain Wallet will be giving away $125 million worth of XLM to its customers.

According to the company’s blog post, this will be the largest airdrop in the history of crypto and likely the largest consumer giveaway ever. The company said “blockchain airdrops” were a great way for crypto creators to drive decentralization and adoption for new networks.

Blockchain also said that the main benefit of crypto airdrops for consumers is that they are able to “test, trade, and transact” unfamiliar crypto assets without having to mine or invest first.

Blockchain CEO Peter Smith told Fortune the company is working with Stellar in part because he believes it represents a superior blockchain capable of massive transaction volumes. Blockchain said that it is not paying anything for the arrangement, but rather that Stellar is using its platform as a vehicle to distribute the lumen currency.

Blockchain’s Distribution Process

The team at the Stellar Development Foundation is hoping that the partnership will further the adoption of XLM to rival other cryptocurrencies in the market. Jed McCaleb, the co-founder of Stellar, said:

“We believe that airdrops are central to creating a more inclusive digital economy. Giving away lumens for free is an invitation to communities to design the services they need.”

The team at Blockchain wallet states that once identity has been verified after signing up on the wallet, $25 worth of XLM will be distributed to each individual. Blockchain’s blog post also noted that there is a first-come-first-served clause in the airdrop that says the offer will only be available until the reserved supply of XLM is depleted.

Smith rejected the suggestion that Stellar Lumens was effectively paying people to use its platform, saying that there were plenty of reasons people would use the platform and that a $25 airdrop wasn’t enough to “entice your product forever.”

Smith added that it is not unusual for startups to offer users incentives to use their products. He cited the example of PayPal, which has admitted to paying early customers to use its product. PayPal co-founder Elon Musk has said the company spent as much as $70m on referral fees in its early years.

“It certainly worked,” Smith told Yahoo Finance. “This is probably, adjusted for inflation, about the same level.”

Salesforce Wins Patent Tackling Email Spam With Blockchain

Software giant Salesforce has won a patent outlining how a blockchain-based platform can be used to prevent spam or other unwanted emails from plaguing people’s inboxes.

According to a document published Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a blockchain-based platform can be leveraged to check whether emails are changed or otherwise tampered with after being sent through a custom matching system. Moreover, this system can more efficiently filter spam than existing protocols, according to the document.

The proposed platform would use a matching system to determine whether an email being sent is legitimate or not. Essentially, when a user sends an email, a portion will be recorded onto a blockchain platform. When a second email server receives the message, it will compare a component to determine whether it matches the section recorded onto the blockchain.

If the components match, the email will continue to the inbox, whereas if there is a discrepancy, the email will be marked as spam.

This system “can help ensure that messages and attachments to those messages have not been modified during transit over a network,” according to the filing.

It explains that “messaging systems are often abused and used to distribute unwanted or undesirable messages (or other network traffic), which are commonly referred to as spam.” Further, spammers have a low barrier to entry, which makes it worth while continuing to send such emails.

Additionally, while spam filters are currently commonplace, they sometimes result in false positives. Using a blockchain platform can reduce the number of false positives through the proposed matching system, the document says.

The patent explains:

“The [system] can also better identify legitimate (wanted) messages and distinguish them from illegitimate (unsolicited) messages. Used properly, the immutability and distributed nature of the blockchain can make it impossible to modify information once it has been committed to the blockchain.”

Using an immutable ledger similarly applies to “all information, which can include things like sender and recipient information,” it adds.

Other uses for the concept could also help guarantee the authenticity of medical records, educational transcripts, deeds, property rights, legal documents, and more, the authors say.

Salesforce, which runs a cloud-based email distribution platform, among other products, has expressed interest in leveraging blockchain before. In March, its CEO, Mark Benioff, said the company was looking into building a product using blockchain for sometime in 2018, though he did not provide details on the project.

Salesforce image via Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Hackers Breach Popular Web Analytics Site to Target Crypto Exchange

Cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io was apparently the target of hackers who compromised a widely used web analytics platform this week.

According to a report from internet security firm ESET on Tuesday, bad actors compromised popular, Ireland-based web analytics site StatCounter, in an attempt to steal bitcoin from the exchange’s customers.

The attackers managed to inject malicious code into the script of StatCounter webpage, having also registered a domain very similar to the official one. The fake domain swapped two letters from the original to form “StatConuter”, which can be difficult to spot while scanning for unusual activity, says ESET, adding that the domain had previously been suspended in 2010 for association with abusive behaviour.

StatCounter is used by more than two million websites, according to its own figures, and it provides statistics on billions of web hits daily.  The fake account managed to get picked up by a number of sites, although Gate.io seems to have been the only target.

The report states that the script targets a specific uniform resource identifier (URI): “myaccount/withdraw/BTC.”

“It turns out that among the different cryptocurrency exchanges live at time of writing, only Gate.io has a valid page with this URI. Thus, this exchange seems to be the main target of this attack,” it concludes.

The URI is notably used by Gate.io to transfer bitcoin from its own account to an external bitcoin address, according to the report.

The script automatically replaces the user’s bitcoin address with one belonging to the attackers, the report indicates.

As the malicious server generates a new bitcoin address each time a visitor loads the StatConuter script, “it is hard to see how many bitcoins have been transferred to the attackers,” the researchers say.

After being notified by ESET about the breach, Gate.io announced Wednesday that it “immediately removed” the StatCounter service from its site, and stressed that the users’ funds are “safe.”

CoinMarketCap data indicates that Gate.io is the 38th largest crypto exchange globally by adjusted trading volume.

Hacker image via Shutterstock 

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Spain’s Port Authority of Valencia to Use IBM’s Blockchain-based Supply Chain Management System

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Spain’s Port Authority of Valencia to Use IBM’s Blockchain-based Supply Chain Management System

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The Port Authority of Valencia (PAV), an organization that manages three state-owned ports in Spain, has reportedly integrated into IBM and Maersk’s blockchain-based TradeLens platform.

“Early Adopter” Of IBM, Maersk’s Global Supply Chain System

The TradeLens platform is a “global supply chain” solution that has been built using distributed ledger technology (DLT). PAV, which trades under the name Valenciaport, has been integrated as an “early adopter” – which means that it will contribute to the platform’s initial stages of development.

Launched on August 9th, 2018, TradeLens has been built to “promote” transparency, and “more efficient and secure global trade”, while also allowing independent parties on its network to quickly share information.

At present, the TradeLens network consists of 20 port operators and terminals – which connect to, and manage 234 seaports throughout the world. They include PSA Singapore, the Port of Halifax, Port of Bilbao, Modern Terminals in Hong Kong, among others.

Reducing Transit Times By 40% 

According to data collected by the TradeLens system, its blockchain-powered platform helps to reduce average transit times of shipments by about 40%. This not only allows cargo to be shipped faster, but it also helps companies save on shipment costs.

Maersk’s official blog post explains that Tradelens’ system uses IBM’s proprietary blockchain-based software to establish “a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality” of the parties involved in the supply chain process.

Moreover, the TradeLens platform lets “shippers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, inland transportation and customs authorities” access shipping data in real-time.

As CryptoGlobe covered, TradeLens has processed over 154 million “data-sending events” – which includes information from ports, logistics companies, and cargo shippers. Additionally, shipping documents that contain internet-of-things (IoT) and sensor data for “temperature control” and “container weight” have been tracked by the TradeLens system.

“Ports Without Papers”

Notably, Spain’s PAV first announced its plans to launch a big data and blockchain-enabled “smart port” in early October. Jose Garcia De La Guia, the head of new technologies at the PAV, had recommended using DLT to improve logistics and the current global supply chain model.

La Guia had said that blockchain technology would help create a “ports without papers” system – which would also reduce the maintenance costs of managing supply chains.

In September, Associated British Ports, a port operator based in the UK, partnered with digital logistics solutions provider, Marine Transport International, in order to develop a blockchain-based system for managing port logistics.

Both companies expect the new DLT-enabled system to help reduce the time required to process data – which is currently being done manually.

South Korean Crypto Exchange Bithumb Lanches Payment Service with ‘Asian Amazon’ Qoo10

South Korea‘s leading virtual currency exchange Bithumb has partnered with Asian e-commerce giant Qoo10 to provide a cryptocurrency payment service, according to an official announcement Nov. 7.  

Qoo10, the so called “Asian Amazon,” is a leading South Korean e-commerce company in pan-Asian markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Indonesia. The press release notes that the partnership will expand the Bithumb cash payment service as a global payment method.

The two companies initially signed a contract in August and proceeded to work with the Qoo10 settlement service and Bithumb Cache system. Introduced by Bithumb this spring, Bithumb Cache is a password settlement service that allows Bithumb customers to convert their funds to use for payments with their password, as Cointelegraph reported Mar. 10.

Through this new partnership, it will become possible to purchase products from Qoo10 and pay for them using the Bithumb Cache. Bithumb’s press release states:

“The partnership with Qoo10 has made it possible for us to utilize the Bithumb cache beyond our home country and abroad for real life. We will continue to improve our services to improve customer convenience.”

Earlier this summer, eBay, a global e-commerce platform, had acquired Qoo10 for the total sum of $573 million, with the aim of increasing eBay’s international presence.  

Last week, Bithumb partnered with U.S. fintech firm SeriesOne with the goal to open a securities token exchange in America, Cointelegraph reported Nov. 1.

According to CoinMarketCap, Bithumb is currently the number 76th crypto exchange, with a total 24 hour trade volume of more than $3,028 billion at press time.

Living in a Post-Quantum Cryptography World

The slow yet steady development of quantum computers has brought major security fears to the forefront of the cryptocurrency sector as well as many other industries.

This article explains the problem, its origin, mechanisms, and implications as well as the steps that are being taken to remedy the threat that quantum computers pose.

What Is Post-Quantum Cryptography?

Post-quantum cryptography refers to the study of cryptographic algorithms that are considered able to withstand an attack by quantum computers. These cryptographic algorithms are usually public-key algorithms and are sometimes called quantum-proof, quantum-safe, or quantum-resistant algorithms.

Quantum proof cryptography has become a significant issue for the cryptography sector as computer scientists continue to work on developing quantum computers. These types of machines make use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information. In quantum computers, calculations are based on the behavior of particles at the atomic and sub-atomic level, hence the name quantum.

In theory, quantum computers should be able to handle a much higher number of instructions per second than previous machines. The exponential increase in the millions of instructions per second (MIPS) is due to the fact that data in a quantum computer exists in more than one state. This is contrary to regular computers, such as a typical PC, which are binary.

Because data in quantum computers is not binary, the machine can “think” different “thoughts” at the same time. The simultaneous exploration of different end states from the same set of particles, variables, or data allows quantum computers to offer much faster processing capabilities. Data in quantum computers is denoted in Qubits, which are similar to standard bits, except that they can take on more than one value, sometimes many, simultaneously.

Due to their processing speed, quantum computers represent a risk for many cryptography-based applications. However, researchers suggest that it is still tricky for quantum computers to behave correctly for extended periods. This is because the machines are quick to abandon quantum computing and go back to functioning like ordinary computers in the event of the slightest disturbances. Examples of these disturbances include electrical discharges, stray electromagnetic fields, or even physical movement.

Robert Schoelkopf, a Yale professor and founder of a company called Quantum Circuits, explains the promise and challenge of creating functional quantum computers. Schoelkopf says:

“If you had 50 or 100 qubits and they really worked well enough, and were fully error-corrected—you could do unfathomable calculations that can’t be replicated on any classical machine, now or ever. The flip side to quantum computing is that there are exponential ways for it to go wrong.”

For these reasons, many consider quantum computers to be far from ready and a theoretical threat at this point. However, technology giant IBM has developed a quantum computer. IBM’s machine is a 20-qubit machine, with in-house computer scientists working on upgrading it to a 50 qubit capability.

An Emerging Threat

In 2014, following Snowden’s leak of a substantial amount of classified materials, it became public knowledge that the NSA was working on a developing a quantum computer. The project was called “Penetrating Hard Targets” and was allocated a $79.7 million budget. The highly classified program is thought to be running out of a facility in College Park, Maryland. While somewhat worrying, the comparatively small budget set aside as well as the fact that the project was likely in its initial stages, resulted in lower levels of concern sector-wide.

However, in the following year, the NSA refueled these worries. The agency published an updated set of guidelines, urging agencies as well as private contractors, who work with them to begin the transition towards quantum resistant cryptography. The surveillance authority stated:

“Our ultimate goal is to provide cost-effective security against a potential quantum computer. We are working with partners across the USG, vendors, and standards bodies to ensure there is a clear plan for getting a new suite of algorithms that are developed in an open and transparent manner that will form the foundation of our next Suite of cryptographic algorithms.”

The statement set off alarms across the cryptography world as people began to wonder whether the NSA had managed to stabilize Qubits and successfully create a quantum computer. Also, others speculated that the NSA had not managed to develop a quantum computer but had knowledge of a functional one.

One major risk that quantum computers pose is Shor’s algorithm. Shor’s algorithm is named after its creator, a mathematician called Peter Shor. The algorithm was created in 1994 and is a quantum algorithm that allows users to find the prime integers of a number (N) in polynomial time. The relative ease at which Shor’s algorithm can be used to detect the prime factors of vast numbers is part of what makes quantum computers such a threat to cryptography and, in turn, the cryptocurrency industry

Using Shor’s algorithm, quantum computers can wreak havoc on all public key systems currently in use. This is because if one has prior knowledge of one fact concerning an integer, such as a public key, then one can decipher the prime factorization. Much of the Internet uses RSA, a type of public-key cryptosystem, to securely transmit data. RSA stands for Rivest–Shamir–Adleman, after the scientists who created it. The cryptosystem consists of two components, the public key and the decryption key which is hidden from the public.

Using the public key and Shor’s algorithm, quantum computers are theoretically able to break RSA encryption. Additionally, quantum computing is also thought to be ready to tackle other types of mathematical problems that classical computers require significant resources to break. Conventional computers are unable to crack many of the algorithms in use today because they would require large amounts of power to do so. The amount of energy needed to achieve this end is unfeasible and negates any of the risk posed by classical computers.

On the other hand, quantum computers can crack public key encryption in much less time as well as compute discrete logarithm mod primes and discrete logs over elliptic curves. Quantum computing poses a risk to the cryptocurrency industry because the machines can be used to break the digital signatures utilized to ascertain transactions in digital currencies. The implication of this is immense as it can allow double spends, theft, forgeries and can likely result in the downfall of the affected cryptocurrency.

While many speculate on the future of digital currencies in the event of functioning quantum computers, Israeli cryptographer Adi Shamir, the “S” in the RSA algorithm, is of a more optimistic opinion. Speaking at the 2017 RSA conference, Shamir said:

“I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over quantum computers. Quantum computers are not at the top of my list of worries. I think there is a higher chance that RSA could be broken by a mathematical attack.”

Quantum computing is not just a concern for the computer science world. Giving the keynote speech at the 2017 RSA conference, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas revealed that the U.S. was working on creating policies that could help it maintain security despite the advent of quantum computers. McCaul, who also serves as the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a co-chair of the Cybersecurity Caucus, is leading the charge of lawmakers calling for substantial increases in the funding and research allocated to the field.

The Republican representatives said that he wants the United States to lead a coalition of like-minded nations to explore what security changes and defenses will be required for the quantum future, confirming that the security concerns had reached the upper echelons of power.

Waiting on NIST Guidance

In December 2016, NIST launched a post-quantum crypto project designed to identify quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce whose mission is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness through science and innovation.

NIST provides industry standards concerning a number of technological innovations including cryptography. Using the submissions received in the post-quantum crypto project, NIST plans to issue guidance in a few years regarding how to proceed in a reality where quantum computers exist.

However, this process is expected to take a long time. Sufficiently testing algorithms requires adequate peer review which can be time-consuming in and of itself. This procedure is a part of what makes modern public key infrastructure so robust. Shamir explains:

“Remember, we are celebrating this year the 40th anniversary of the RSA algorithm; it was invented in 1977. Should we switch now, as a cautionary step, to a quantum-resistant algorithm? If someone would come up with something that is both quantum-resistant and better than our current algorithms, we win.”

Post-Quantum Algorithms

As described previously, post-quantum cryptography is the study of cryptosystems which can be computed on a classical computer but remain secure even when running on a quantum computer. NIST is currently in the process of reviewing the submissions contributed towards the efforts of standardizing post-quantum cryptography. NIST explains:

“The goal of post-quantum cryptography (also called quantum-resistant cryptography) is to develop cryptographic systems that are secure against both quantum and classical computers, and can interoperate with existing communications protocols and networks.

While the submissions are myriad, there are a few that are quite promising. The proposals with the greatest promise are those whose cryptosystems are based on lattices, isogenies, hash functions, and codes.

Lattices are complex mathematical structures which can obscure data. In and of themselves, lattices are not quantum-proof. However, they can be used to create quantum resistant cryptosystems. Lattices posses strong security reductions, are capable of key exchanges, digital signatures, as well as more complex features like full homomorphic encryption. The cryptosystems based on lattices in the NIST PQC standard submissions are Kyber and Dilithium.

An isogeny is defined as “a function that transforms one elliptic curve into another in such a way that the group structure of the first curve is reflected in the second.” The Supersingular Isogeny Diffie-Hellman (SIDH) scheme looks to be a promising lead for isogeny-based quantum-proof computing where the secret keys are a chain of isogenies, and public keys are curves. While isogeny-based cryptography has tiny key sizes compared to other post-quantum schemes, it is the slowest of all the other proposed QP techniques. Moreover, they support perfect forward secrecy, which cannot be said of the other proposals.

Codes in this context refer to error correcting codes. Initially created by a duo of scientists, codes have become a mainstay in modern computing. When utilizing codes, it is computationally challenging to decipher any data without knowing the linear code upon which it is based. The McEliece public key cryptosystem is the most promising cryptosystem that uses codes.

Currently, McEliece systems utilize Goppa Codes to encrypt data, but research is now underway to use another class of codes, called “quasi-cyclic moderate density parity-check codes.” This iteration will help reduce the large key size that currently exists within the McEliece cryptosystem.

Hash functions are any functions that can be used to reduce data of arbitrary size to data of a fixed size. The values returned by a hash function are called hash values, hash codes, digests, or simply hashes. In cryptosystems which use hash-based signatures, a private key can only be used once because the signature is exposed as a component of the private key. This requires ample space to store all the data. While it is not possible to create a public key encryption scheme out of hashes, SPHINCS is a QP proposal which employs hash-based signatures.

These four types of cryptosystems have been on the receiving end of a significant amount of attention, but are yet to be approved by NIST. Many consider ring lattice-based cryptography to be the most promising path to QP cryptography, but it has been tested for a shorter amount of time in comparison to its peers. As a result, much of the consensus is that the McEliece cryptosystem, when used with the battle-tested Goppa Codes, is the best bet to a quantum-proof future.