The National Security Agency is building a quantum computer designed to break almost every type of encryption in the world, including those used to protect banking, medical, business and government records.
Documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden reveal a $79.7 million research program to build a “cryptologically useful quantum computer,” the Washington Post reports. Such a supercomputer, if completed, would be able to break public key encryptions used both on secure websites and to protect state secrets.
But the documents provided by ex-NSA contractor Snowden suggest the NSA’s program — nicknamed Penetrating Hard Targets — is no closer to building a quantum computer than others in the private sphere. The NSA believes it is on track with similar efforts in the European Union and Switzerland, but most mechanical-engineering experts predict that quantum computer technology is at least five years away, and probably much longer without a major scientific breakthrough.