Hackers hoarding stolen data to crack with quantum computers next decade

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Hackers are holding on to stolen data they cannot access  with hopes that quantum computers will soon be able to break the codes — a strategy U.S. officials are working to counteract attacks as hackers target hospitals, MIT Technology Review reported Nov. 3.

Quantum computers are different from traditional computers because instead of numbers, they use quantum pieces that can represent several values at the same time. Quantum computers have the capability to solve encrypted algorithms and passwords to break into sensitive data.

Although these computers are not projected to be available for another decade, U.S. officials are preparing to protect Americans from future dangers, according to the report. 

"The threat of a nation-state adversary getting a large quantum computer and being able to access your information is real," Dustin Moody, a mathematician at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told MIT Technology Review. "The threat is that they copy down your encrypted data and hold on to it until they have a quantum computer."

NIST has been holding a contest since 2016 to produce the first quantum computer-proof algorithm by 2024. Organizations should start planning for the transition now so they are prepared when the NIST algorithm is completed, according to the report.

Quantum computer efforts are among several federal officials are engaging in to be proactive against cyberattacks. In October, the United States worked with other countries to bring down REvil, one of the top ransomware gangs worldwide. The U.S. also identified the top cyber threat actors for hospitals to help healthcare organizations better defend themselves against hackers.

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