Is cryptography safe? Are quantum computers going to break everything? Do we need to take action today to protect ourselves? Can we protect ourselves? Are locked briefcases the future of secure communication? Rogue government agencies have a long history of suppressing democratic dissent. Technological advances have now given these agencies an unprecedented ability to monitor the entire population, and the Snowden revelations show that the agencies are not hesitating to take advantage of this ability: "Collect it all. Process it all. Exploit it all."
Society's last line of defense is encryption, mathematically scrambling private messages so that those messages cannot be understood by the attackers. But encryption is under threat from another technological advance on the horizon: a new type of supercomputing, called universal quantum computing. One of the goals of NSA's "Penetrating Hard Targets" program is to build a "cryptologically useful quantum computer". Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange will explore the world of cryptography and the impact of quantum computers.