quantum computing

Heading off the quantum encryption apocalypse

 Illustration of a computer floating in the center of an atom.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We probably have as much as a decade before quantum computers pose a threat to the encryption systems that sit at the foundation of contemporary cybersecurity. But we'd better start strengthening that foundation now if we hope to protect it down the road, experts say.

Why it matters: Encryption is critical for economic and national security, protecting trade secrets, communications, and classified information.

A surprising quantum front-runner

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The enormous promise of quantum computing has lured big early investments from finance, aerospace, defense, and other tech-soaked industries. But an unexpected player is neck-and-neck with these front-runners: carmakers.

Big auto companies are tinkering with quantum computers in hopes they can solve problems too hefty for today's machines, from cooking up bigger batteries to designing lighter vehicles. And as they experiment, a host of other companies are lingering on the sidelines, watching for the right moment to jump in.