Most people don't realize it, but the world runs on cryptography. The art and science of secure communication is integral to everything from instant messaging apps to online banking and modern warfare. Today, cryptography relies on a handful of algorithms so secure that the heat death of the universe would occur before anyone would be able to break them, even if they had access to all the computing power on Earth.
The problem is that the nature of computing is rapidly changing. The digital computers of today will eventually give way to new, more advanced computers of tomorrow. So-called quantum computers will be far more powerful than the fastest supercomputers in existence today. While they hold the potential to facilitate unprecedented scientific advances, they also threaten to render today's strongest encryption standards obsolete.
The threat of a crypto-apocalypse, where everyone's private information becomes insecure due to the arrival of large-scale quantum computers, is no longer a question of 'if,' but a question of 'when.' The perceived inevitability has security researchers locked in a high-stakes race to develop quantum-resistant cryptography before the dawn of the first large-scale quantum computer arrives on the scene.