Chinese blockchain platform ChainMaker says it has new technology to keep it secure from quantum attacks

·3 min read

Chinese home-grown blockchain platform ChainMaker has been equipped with technology that can resist attacks from classical and quantum computers, according to state-owned China News Service.

Developers of the enterprise blockchain – also known as Chang’An Chain – said the new technology further secures information transmission between financial institutions, making online transactions safer, the news agency reported on Monday.

The system released in January last year is China’s first independent blockchain platform, developed by a state-backed Beijing consortium – the Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing.

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Its software and hardware were jointly developed with institutions such as Tsinghua University and Beihang University, and tech giants including Tencent and Baidu.

A post-quantum digital signature algorithm has been integrated into the blockchain platform to keep it secure from attacks – even those by quantum computers that can potentially threaten the security of traditional communications, the report said.

Why China is investing heavily in blockchain

A blockchain is a permanent log of transactions. The digital list of records is designed to be difficult to alter without being detected and is stored in blocks, each containing the transaction time and data.

To ensure the list stays secure, transactions require the use of cryptographic hash functions – difficult maths problems – and proof-of-work problems that verify each block that came before it.

The obsolescence of traditional secure communications – which use encryption based on computational difficulty – has been on the cards since 1994, when US mathematician Peter Shor found that a quantum computer could be used to find the prime factors of enormous numbers.

To counter potential quantum computing attacks, classical cryptographic algorithms have been developed – called post-quantum cryptography – as well as a quantum key distribution system.

Blockchains are commonly used over peer-to-peer networks to verify decentralised data – typically for managing cryptocurrencies. Photo: Shutterstock
Blockchains are commonly used over peer-to-peer networks to verify decentralised data – typically for managing cryptocurrencies. Photo: Shutterstock

Separately, the head of quantum tech firm QuantumCTek has told state-run China Science Daily it is important to develop technologies to counter quantum attacks – even though it might take another eight to 10 years before a full-fledged quantum computer is built.

“The cost of making amends will be huge – we should plan ahead,” Ying Yong, the company’s director, was quoted as saying on Monday. “Building a quantum secure communication network is an urgent matter. The denser the network, the better; and the denser it is, the more practical it becomes.”

Quantum secure communication breakthrough for China scientists

While blockchains are most commonly used over peer-to-peer networks to verify decentralised data – typically for managing cryptocurrencies – in China they are used for verifying contracts, health data and more.

ChainMaker says its platform has been used in carbon trading, supply chain finance and food origins tracing during the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year.

The consortium in June last year said it had deployed a 96-core blockchain chip that makes signature verification 20 times faster and smart contract processing 50 times faster on the platform, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

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