In celebration of NIST's approval of the XMSS signature scheme, we are proud to present a website and logo refresh.
A look at NIST’s approval of the XMSS signature scheme
On October 29th, 2020, The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) announced the release of Special Publication (SP) 800-208, aptly titled “Recommendation for Stateful Hash-Based Signature Schemes”.
XMSS is a big part of that recommendation, which the Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) foresaw by outlining in their QRL whitepaper and bringing their first testnet node online in 2016, four years ago, after discussions with developers, post-quantum cryptographers, and research into the existing roadmap of blockchain technology. Along with this, a core technical team with members that includes core blockchain developer Kaushal Kumar Singh, PhD post-quantum cryptographer Leon Groot Bruinderink, and full-stack developer JP Lomas was assembled.
Fast forward to June 2018, and after 2 years of testing and multiple external audits, mainnet (actinium) was released. This foresight and focus on unparalleled security would cement QRL as a blockchain for visionaries, academics, and enterprises alike.
Outside of the blockchain space, QRL wasn’t alone in recognizing XMSS’s capabilities. PQ-CRYPTO, a consortium lead by a steering committee of post-quantum cryptographers such as Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange, also recognized this, recommending XMSS as part of their initial recommendations as far back as 2015.
The reasoning for XMSS was multi-fold. First, hash-based cryptosystems are really old, dating back as far as 1979, so are well understood from an implementation perspective. We know how they tick, how to integrate them successfully and what to look for from a security standpoint. Secondly, the primitives that XMSS are built from are minimal and well understood as being post-quantum secure. These things makes XMSS the first provably (forward) secure and practical signature scheme with minimal security requirements.
Finally, XMSS is a stateful signature scheme, and with the blockchain being stateful as well, the fit is natural - though no small feat!
Great work by @NIST for moving forward with recommending the quantum secure hash-based signature scheme #XMSS, which $QRL foresaw by using, from genesis, 2 years ago— QRL: The Quantum Resistant Ledger (@QRLedger) November 4, 2020
This makes $QRL the only blockchain using a NIST approved post-quantum signature schemehttps://t.co/3eVumCJgH9 pic.twitter.com/HSVjtBKLVE
Why acknowledge the threat? Because commercially available quantum computers are here now, and progress is accelerating to bring them to scale
As quantum computing presents revolutionary opportunities for AI1, chemistry2, materials science3, finance4, security5, and more, the USA6, China7, EU8 and other nation states are investing heavily into quantum computing. Beyond that, with 8 out of the top 10 tech giants (by marketshare)9 such as Google10, IBM11, Intel12, Rigetti13 and Microsoft14 are either competing for market dominance or involved in some capacity. Needless to say, quantum computing is finally on the verge of becoming commercially useful1516 and is being developed at an accelerating pace17. The takeaway here is that this is real, and while it presents exciting opportunities, it also brings with it important security considerations and precautions that we should be taking.
And blockchain needs to be ready, early. Period.
The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), along with Cloudflare, QRL, and others are preparing in advance18. Banks are preparing as well19, and most services you use have the benefit of being centralized, leading to fast migrations in the case of a black swan event. To put it as a simple metaphor, banks have the keys to their users’ assets, and can update everyone’s keys in a weekend. With blockchain, everyone has their own set of keys that will need updating individually, and that will take years.
All things considered, it’s not likely to be an easy or quick migration for blockchain systems. A closer look at difficulties can be found in our recent video “No! You can’t just Quantum Soft fork Bitcoin! Or can you???”
Risk tolerance, and opportunity, needs to be considered as well. Even if quantum computers can’t break the cryptography of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other altcoins as they exist today, they will be able to break it someday, and it’s important to apply Mosca’s Theorem20 and work backwards. That is, if it takes 10 years for people to migrate, then blockchain systems need to be ready 10 years before quantum computers can break things, and that’s not including the time to develop and reach consensus. The paper, “Quantum Attacks on Bitcoin and How to Protect Against them”, models that it could be as early as 2027.
Other models exist, such as QCCalc created by a QRL Community member.
1/ The model for projecting when quantum computers will break #Bitcoin's 256-bit ECDSA is complete. You can find the code at https://t.co/UqHN4FkccX. I have attached some results for assorted parameter settings. You will need Matlab to run it for now, but a web app is coming! pic.twitter.com/Mpa7e4njqZ— John Smith (@JSmith_Crypto) August 7, 2019
The bottom line is, with a total marketcap of over $500 Billion as of this post and something most of us wish to be much higher, risk tolerances needs to be much lower and security needs to be paramount.
At QRL, we’re not willing to wait around.
Introducing project enQlave: Securing Ethereum Crypto Assets and Saving Blockchain
Outside of the threat of governments, quantum computers remain the second biggest perceived risk to Bitcoin.
What are the biggest risks for #bitcoin? Results of my latest poll show most of you (34%) voted government ban or regulation as biggest risk, followed by quantum computing (21%) and centralized mining in China (18%). Good to see we got rid of forks and futures manipulation fud. pic.twitter.com/zPWlEP4Z3H— PlanB (@100trillionUSD) December 10, 2020
The Quantum Resistant Ledger is ready. Today.
For the rest of the blockchain space, earlier this year we announced enQlave: The quantum safe for your crypto assets, an initiative that integrates the XMSS signature scheme and our experience to help protect any users digital assets of any blockchain with expressive enough smart contracts. The blockchain we’re starting with is Ethereum, and when Ethereum 2.0 enables expressive enough smart contracts (like we’re sure they will), then you’ll be able to protect your Ethereum 2.0 assets as well.
This will be possible through a simple UI using a non-custodial hybrid post-quantum secure multisig Ethereum wallet. EnQlave is complete and is presently under an audit through x41 D-Sec, though will undergoing further improvements before release. Be sure to check out our introduction post or take a deeper dive.
While enQlave will allow people to protect their Ethereum digital assets from the quantum threat, the most efficient and complete ecosystem built from the ground up with security as a foundation will always be QRL.
Enter the Quantum Resistant Ledger: A feature rich visionary blockchain for digital asset security with continuous progress
With a quantum secure foundation, mainnet (actinium) was completed with a full suite of functionality that has formed the bedrock for additional features down the road. That included:
- A 100% post-quantum secure address space
- GUI wallets for Mac, Windows, and Linux
- Quantum Resistant Tokens (QRT’s)
- Quantum Resistant Notarisation, and
- Crypto-agility with an extensible address format
This year QRL has seen the release of Bromine, which added:
- Quantum Secure Multi-signature addresses & transactions
- Ephemeral Messaging LatticeTX - Project Mercury
- An upgraded consensus protocol to RandomX
And looking ahead, future forks such as Cesium and Dysprosium are slated to include:
- Full Ephemeral Messaging System functionality
- Proof-of-Stake, and
- Smart Contracts
Where we’ve been and where we’re heading can be seen on our refreshed roadmap page, and none of this would be possible without the support of open-source contributors from our community. As of the date of this post, we’ve had a total of 8540 contributions between 48 contributors over 29 public MIT open-sourced repositories.
For our branding and refresh, we worked closely with cryptogang, a design agency that specializes in defining the design brand and identity of blockchain projects. We’d say the results speak for themselves.
For media/press outlets, or for some inspired creativity, our new Press Kit page is an easy place to quickly grab these QRL brand assets.
We hope you enjoy the update.
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Machine Learning & AI↩︎
Chemistry & Biology
- How Quantum Computing is Enabling Breakthroughs in Chemistry, Mark Jackson, Nov 2018, Singularity Hub
- Trapped-ion quantum computer does chemistry calculations for the first time, Philip Ball, July 2018, The Royal Society of Chemistry
- Quantum computer simulates two types of bizarre materials, Emily Conover, August 2018, ScienceNews
Quantum Computing in Finance
- Quantum Computing in Finance, Colin P. Williams, D-Wave Systems, 2015
Quantum Computing and Security
- Addressing the Quantum Computing Threat to Cryptography (ITSE.00.017)
- Chinese Breakthrough in Quantum Computing a Warning for Security Teams
- Kudelski Security expands research and advisory services focusing on quantum security
- At Last America is Moving on Quantum - Forbes
- The quantum computing race the US can’t afford to lose - TheNextWeb
- Chinese scientists broke a quantum computing record, Karen Chiu, Jul 2018, abacusnews
- The man turning China into a quantum superpower, Martin Giles, December 2018, MIT Technology Review
- China is about to pump $10 Billion in a research centre, Jack Corrigan, July 2018
- Quantum Flagship
- Europe’s billion-euro quantum flagship hands out first grants, Edwin Cartlidge, October 2018, Sciencemag
TOP 10 tech companies by marketcap and their involvement with quantum computing
- 1100 billion: Apple (No current move into quantum computing)
- 962 billion: Amazon Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab
- 883 billion: Microsoft A scalable, open approach to quantum solutions and development
- 839 billion: Google Google confirms ‘quantum supremacy’ breakthrough
- 460 billion: Facebook (No current move into quantum computing)
- 412 billion: Alibaba Alibaba puts quantum computing in the public cloud, follows Intel and IBM’s lead
- 383 billion: Tencent Holdings Tencent Quantum Lab
- 297 billion: Samsung Electronics Samsung to work with IBM on quantum computing
- 224 billion: Cisco Why network engineers should care about Quantum technology
- 222 billion: Intel Quantum computing is emerging from the theoretical realm towards real-world systems.
- “It should be about 5 years to 1000 qubit chips with superconducting technology. It should be about 10 years to million qubit chips.” From the article A Preview of Bristlecone, Google’s New Quantum Processor, june 10, 2018
- Google reclaims quantum computer crown with 72 qubit processor, Tristan Greene, March 2018, TheNextWeb
- Google and NASA Tackle Quantum Supremacy, John Russel, November 2018, HPC Wire
- “And a million-physical-qubit system, whose general computing applications are still difficult to even fathom? It’s conceivable, says Neven, “on the inside of 10 years.”, Harmut Nevan, Head of Google’s quantum computing effort
- “Five years from now, we will have a commercial quantum computer”
- IBM believes quantum computers will be mainstream in 5 years
- IBM Q Experience
- IBM unveils its first commercial quantum computer, January 2019, NewScientist
- Intel’s New Path to Quantum Computing, Samuel K. Moore and Amy Nordrum, June 2018, IEEE Spectrum
- Intel is now capable of producing full silicon wafers of quantum computing chips, Greg Synek, June 2018, Techspot
- “128 qubits in the next 12 months”, 2018, Bloomberg
- Microsoft Empowering the Quantum Revolution
- Here’s why Microsoft is ‘all-in’ on quantum computing, Laurel Deppen, June 2018, TechRepublic
- In January 2019, IBM presented it’s first commercial quantum computer. It’s not an exiting step if we’re looking at the technical aspects of this particular quantum computer.
- In December 2018, a month earlier IonQ broke the record for number of Qubits: they announced a 79 qubits quantum computer.
Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) Computers
- Quantum Computing in the NISQ era and beyond, John Preskill, July 2018, Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
- We’ve Entered a New Era in Quantum Computing, Ryan F. Mandelbaum, May 2018, Gizmodo
Quantum computing pace of development
- 2010: 3 qubit quantum computer calculated the energy spectrum of molecular hydrogen to high precision
- 2016: IBM has 5 qubits you can work with in a cloud
- 2017: IBM had a 16 qubit quantum computer
- 2017: Intel develops a 17-qubit chip
- 2017: IBM reveals a working 50-qubit quantum computer that can maintain its quantum state for 90 microseconds
- 2017: Google announced to have a 51 qubit quantum computer
- 2018: Google announced 72 quits. From the article “A Preview of Bristlecone, Google’s New Quantum Processor”, March 5, 2018
- 2018: Intel announces a new 49-qubit quantum chip
- 2018: IonQ has a 79 qubit quantum computer
- 2019: Neven’s law states that quantum computers are improving at a “doubly exponential” rate. If it holds, quantum supremacy is around the corner
- 2020: China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy
- 2020: Achieving Quantum Volume 128 on the Honeywell Quantum Computer
Quantum Security in Banks
- Dutch researchers are developing quantum technology to secure your bank account
- Large US banks up security to get ahead of the quantum threat