This article is part of our special report Europe’s cybersecurity agenda.
Data encryption is one of the most important cogs in our digital economy. Without it, secure online banking, internet shopping and international business transactions would grind to a halt.
At present, breaking encryption is virtually impossible, with estimates suggesting it would take an average data center around one million years to break a single crypto key based on the RSA public encryption algorithm that millions of people use every day. But, over the next decade, the development of quantum computing could cut this time to around 100 seconds.
So, it’s a race against time for researchers to come-up with new types of crypto systems.
But encryption is not without controversy. Yesterday the European Commission published a report that tries to balance the need to protect people’s private data with that of law enforcement access to encrypted communications.
An occasion for us to sit down with Brian LaMacchia who leads the Security and Cryptography team at Microsoft Research to better understand encryption technologies, why they are so important and when the world might see its first quantum computer.