The National Security Agency is trying to develop a computer that could ultimately break most encryption programs, whether they are used to protect other nations spying programs or consumers bank accounts.
A quantum computer capable of breaking most encryption codes. Encryption is used to protect sensitive information including banking and emails.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” exponentially faster than current computers part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.
One expert cited by the newspaper said it was unlikely the US agency could be close to creating the machine without the knowledge of the scientific community.
“It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,” Scott Aaronson, an electrical engineering and computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated about whether the NSA’s efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs.