​Chrome: Stop future computers from cracking current encryption

Using qubits instead of bits gives quantum computers new power to decode communications. Google wants to nip that possibility in the bud.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise Processors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, science. Credentials
  • Shankland covered the tech industry for more than 25 years and was a science writer for five years before that. He has deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and more.
Stephen Shankland

Google released a beta test version of its Chrome browser that attempts to keep your data secure even if today's uncrackable encryption becomes tomorrow's code-breaking cakewalk.

The Chrome 54 beta gets the ability to encipher data sent to and from websites with a technology called CECPQ1. It "protects against future attacks using large quantum computers," Google said in a blog post Thursday.

Google is pushing hard to keep people's data private, pushing encrypted web connections and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to those who report sophisticated security problems. That causes heartburn for law enforcement and spies, but tech giants ramped up encryption efforts after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of US government surveillance efforts.

Want to thwart quantum computer decryption? Better start studying now.
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Want to thwart quantum computer decryption? Better start studying now.

Want to thwart quantum computer decryption? Better start studying now.

NXP Semiconductor

Quantum computers are bizarre, storing data with qubits that can be both 0 and 1, a principle called superposition, instead of regular computers with bits of either 0 or 1. They've barely even reached the experimental stage, but if they mature, their unique design could undermine a key part of today's encryption technology.

Today, encryption relies on the computational difficulty of figuring out which two large prime numbers are factors to an even larger number. But with superposition, a quantum computer can test an immense amount of possibilities simultaneously to find the right pair of primes quickly.