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Quantum Computing Could Deliver ‘Next Global Shock’: WEF

Risk to encrypted data could paralyze critical infrastructure and destabilize global security dynamics

Berenice Baker

January 16, 2024

1 Min Read
A digitized globe
Quantum could present a global risk, according to the WEFGetty

International economy non-governmental organization The World Economic Forum (WEF) has described quantum computing as “the next global shock,” saying that it could pose radical global risks.

In The Global Risks Report 2024, WEF singles out the risk of cryptographically relevant quantum computers – future devices powerful enough to break public key encryption – to secure transactions, sensitive personal data and industry trade secrets.

The report warns that national or even global critical infrastructure, such as banks, power grids and hospitals, could be paralyzed if quantum computers could power cyberattacks on even the most secure systems. The worst-case scenario is that it may rapidly destabilize global security dynamics.

The WEF notes that criminal actors are already launching store now, decrypt later (SNDL) attacks on encrypted data, stealing and storing it until cryptographically relevant quantum computers are available. This could see the data owners blackmailed or the sensitive data sold to the highest bidder on the dark web.

The report also warns that adding the compute power of quantum computing could accelerate and intensify the risk presented by other emerging technologies, such as general-purpose AI, and give rise to novel global risks.

Related:World Economic Forum Warns of ‘Quantum Divide’

“Alongside productivity benefits and breakthroughs in fields as diverse as healthcare, education and climate change, advanced AI carries major societal risks,” the report says. “It will also interact with parallel advancements in other technologies, from quantum computing to synthetic biology, amplifying adverse consequences posed by these frontier developments.”

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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