Ethereum Devs Brace for Quantum Computing Emergency

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The coming Quantum Emergency

With each advancement in quantum computing the potential to break conventional encryption methods and hack all blockchain wallets increases. The growing need for quantum preparedness is already being discussed on the official Ethereum Research forum. Vitalik Buterin, developer and co-creator of Ethereum has begun to lay forth the development of specialized protocols and procedures around a “quantum emergency” designed to safeguard the Ethereum digital infrastructure.

Proposal: Implementing a Recovery Fork System

Part of the proposed solution to address quantum emergencies is the implementation of a recovery fork. This system would work by creating a duplicate, “forked” version of a digital system that is immune to quantum attacks. In the event of a quantum emergency, the unaffected fork would be activated, allowing for a quick and seamless transition to a secure environment. This approach would not only mitigate the damage caused by quantum threats but also ensure the continuity of critical operations in the face of a crisis.

“We are already well-positioned to make a pretty simple recovery fork to deal with such a situation” – Vitalik Buterin

Quantum Proof Transaction Concept

Vitalik outlines a multi-part solution to the problem as outlined below:

  1. A new transaction type is added to allow transactions from smart contract wallets (eg. part of RIP-7560 27), if this is not available already
  2. A new transaction type or opcode is added by which you can provide a STARK proof which proves knowledge of (i) a private preimage x, (ii) a hash function ID 1 <= i < k from a list of k approved hash functions, and (iii) a public address A, such that keccak(priv_to_pub(hashes[i](x)))[12:] = A. The STARK also accepts as a public input the hash of a new piece of validation code for that account. If the proof passes, your account’s code is switched over to the new validation code, and you will be able to use it as a smart contract wallet from that point forward.


Ethereum Researcher, irnb’s visual representation

“The infrastructure to implement a hard fork like this could in principle start to be built tomorrow, making the Ethereum ecosystem maximally ready in case a quantum emergency does actually come to pass.” – Vitalik Buterin

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