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Back in 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto probably wasn’t overly concerned about advancements in quantum computing when he developed Bitcoin’s key encryption. Even now, quantum computing is still quite far off adoption levels that could be classed as mainstream, with only a handful of companies possessing the technology. But developments do mean that the threat that quantum computing poses to blockchains is starting to become real. 

Currently, the key encryption used by blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is what keeps funds safe. Key encryption relies on a mathematical principle known as prime number factorization, which links the public and private key. The private key is based on prime numbers that are multiplied together to form the public key. Beyond numbers of a certain size, it becomes near-impossible to work out which prime numbers were multiplied together to generate the public key. 

Current encryption standards use a length of 309 digits. This number is based on research that took place in 2009, where a single computer was used to try and factor a prime number 232 digits long. It took the equivalent of 2,000 years, which, believe it or not, was deemed too risky. So, the 309 standard prevailed. 

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