BUTERIN’S PLAN FOR QUANTUM THREATS TO ETHEREUM 

Vitalik Buterin has proposed measures to safeguard Ethereum in the event of a quantum computing crisis, emphasizing a blockchain hard fork and new transaction models.

In his latest Ethereum Research post from March 9, Buterin delves into the potential crisis triggered by the advent of quantum computing, possibly as imminent as the next day. He presents a comprehensive plan demonstrating Ethereum’s capability to address such a challenge effectively.

Defensive Measures for Quantum Threats

Buterin raises a hypothetical “quantum emergency,” positing the sudden announcement of accessible quantum computers that malevolent entities could exploit to compromise users’ funds. He maintains that Ethereum stands ready with effective defenses against such quantum attacks, suggesting the deployment of a hard fork and the creation of novel transaction types as key strategies.

He detailed a recovery process that involves minimal loss of funds for users, necessitating a hard fork of Ethereum and the adoption of updated wallet software by users.

Buterin points out that the threat posed by quantum computers primarily affects cryptographic systems, particularly Ethereum addresses generated through elliptic curve multiplication. Quantum computing could decrypt these, exposing elliptic curve cryptography as vulnerable. Nevertheless, Ethereum’s keccak hash functions would remain impervious to these advances.

Transition to Quantum-Resistant Transactions

Buterin further explains plans to roll out a new form of transaction under the RIP-7560 protocol, aimed at enabling secure transactions from smart contract wallets in the face of quantum threats. This new transaction type would incorporate Winternitz signatures and STARKs, facilitating the move of current wallets to secure validation codes. Leveraging ERC-4337’s account abstraction, this technology is designed to shield transactions from private key exposure, thus fortifying them against quantum attacks.

He also comforts users who have not conducted transactions from their Ethereum wallets, affirming their safety from quantum vulnerabilities since only their addresses have been exposed. Moreover, Buterin asserts that the infrastructure to execute this protective hard fork can start being developed without delay.

Quantum computing’s emergence is a significant concern for the crypto industry due to its potential to break blockchain encryption. Yet, forecasts from leading tech firms like Google and IBM suggest that widespread quantum computing may not become a reality until 2029 or later.

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