Migrating Blockchains Away from ECDSA for Post-Quantum Security: A Study of Impact on Users and Applications

Mar 17, 2023

by Teik Guan Tan, Jianying Zhou

Blockchains use Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) to secure transactions between the wallets and blockchain nodes. Due to the potential threat from quantum computers, these blockchain implementations need to migrate away from ECDSA to a post-quantum algorithm before quantum computers become powerful enough. However, the migration process is long and challenging because replacing the underlying cryptographic implementation will significantly impact several existing use-cases, causing financial losses to users and making applications fail. We study the impact of such use-cases from a user and application perspective. To partly minimize the impact, we observe that use of BIP39 Seed is key to achieving backward compatibility and propose possible strategies in choosing and adapting a BIP39-compatible post-quantum algorithm.

Paper presented at 6th International Workshop on Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology (CBT 2022)

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