Will Your Online Conversations Be Safe in the Quantum Hacking Era? | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Quantum computing is revolutionizing data processing and problem-solving to levels never seen before, opening endless possibilities in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to cybersecurity. But while quantum computing can be used for good, it can also be employed by hackers. In turn, software developers and cryptographers are being called to action to develop robust security solutions for their users.

End-to-end encryption in messaging apps is no longer a novelty to boast about but a necessity. Surfshark’s Research Hub has looked at 12 popular messaging apps (all offering a certain level of encryption) and reveals how secure they are against current quantum hacking threats. The results show that only 2 of 12 popular messaging apps offer quantum-level encryption.

What is quantum hacking?

Quantum hacking uses quantum computing to perform attacks. While traditional computing works in bits – binary pieces of information that are expressed either as a 0 or 1 – quantum computing uses qubits (quantum bits). Unlike traditional bits, qubits can be in multiple positions at the same time (this ability is called a superposition), meaning that they can exist as both 0 and 1 at the same time.

The superposition of qubits allows them to perform many calculations at the same time. That’s what makes quantum computing and quantum hacking so powerful – potentially powerful enough to crack traditional encryption algorithms in messaging apps.

iMessage and Signal – the only 2 popular messaging apps offering post-quantum encryption

Even though no messaging apps have been cracked through quantum hacking yet, the threat is looming, and platforms must prepare in advance. Surfshark’s research shows that Signal and iMessage are the only 2 popular messaging apps (out of the 12 analyzed) that are safe against the current quantum hacking threats.

iMessage takes the lead with the most advanced cryptographic security solution PQ3. According to Apple, the new solution can defend “against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks”. Signal’s quantum encryption is slightly less advanced but is nonetheless prepared to defend against current quantum threats.

Four popular messaging apps do not provide traditional end-to-end encryption by default

Telegram, WeChat, and QQ do not even provide regular (non-quantum) end-to-end encryption by default. Snapchat only encrypts images, but not messages. A lack of default end-to-end encryption leaves users vulnerable to eavesdropping by third parties, such as hackers, companies, or even governments. Even a seemingly innocent-looking joke sent to a friend can result in arrest, as was the case for a British student in 2022 after authorities intercepted his Snapchat messages.

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, LINE, Viber, and Google Messages. While such encryption is commendable and can effectively protect against eavesdropping, data theft, and data tampering attempts made through traditional computers, it likely will not be able to withstand quantum hacking attempts.

Q-day is coming, and quantum encryption will soon become a necessity

Quantum computers have not yet evolved enough to crack traditional encryption codes. But experts believe that the so-called Q-Day is coming, and the time to prepare is now. Companies that have already implemented post-quantum encryption are demonstrating their proactivity and dedication in protecting user data. Meanwhile, the companies that still rely on traditional encryption or, worse, no default encryption at all, may leave their users’ conversations vulnerable to quantum hackers when Q-Day finally arrives.


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