Do you ever stop and wonder about the incredible complexity behind digital security? Well, let me blow your mind for a minute.
In the world of cryptography, breaking a piece of security sometimes requires guessing a specific string of 256 bits. To put it in perspective, imagine needing to find a message with a SHA-256 hash that matches a particular 256-bit string. The only way to do this is by guessing and checking random messages, which, on average, would require a mind-boggling 2^256 guesses.
Now, let’s try to visualize the enormity of this number. To start, 2^256 is equivalent to multiplying 2^32 by itself a staggering 8 times. And what’s interesting about that is 2^32 is a more tangible number—it’s 4 billion, the kind of number you might see in a headline.
To give you an idea of the computational power required, consider this: a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) can perform a multitude of computations in parallel at lightning speed. Let’s say you program a GPU to run a cryptographic hash function repetitively. A top-notch GPU might manage to perform just under a billion hashes in one second.
Now, let’s take a bunch of those GPUs and pack your computer with them so that it can run 4 billion hashes per second. This first 4 billion represents the number of hashes per second per computer.
Picture this: four billion of these GPU-packed computers. Even though the number of servers Google utilizes is unknown, estimates suggest it’s in the single-digit millions. If Google were to replace all its servers with machines like these, four billion of them would equal to about a thousand copies of this souped-up Google. So, we’ll call it one KiloGoogle worth of computing power.
Now, let’s think about the number of people on Earth—around 7.3 billion. If we were to give just over half of every person their own personal KiloGoogle, that would be like having four billion copies of our Earth.
But we won’t stop there. Imagine four billion copies of the Milky Way galaxy, with each one having a GigaGalactic Super Computer running about 2^160 guesses every second.
Now, here’s where it gets mind-bending. Four billion seconds is roughly equivalent to 126.8 years. If we multiply that by another four billion, we get a staggering 507 billion years. That’s approximately 37 times the age of the universe itself.
So, even if you were to unleash your GPU-packed KiloGoogle per person multiplanetary GigaGalactic computer to guess numbers for 37 times the age of the universe, it would only have a 1 in 4 billion chance of finding the correct guess.
By the way, in the world of Bitcoin mining, all the miners combined guess-and-check at a rate of about five billion billion hashes per second. That’s approximately one-third of what we just described as a KiloGoogle. Miners achieve this incredible hashing power not by having billions of GPU-packed machines but by utilizing something a thousand times more efficient—a specialized hardware called Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) designed solely for Bitcoin mining.
Now, before I go, I want to mention that our channel recently hit 2^18 subscribers. To celebrate this milestone and connect with you all, I’ll be doing a Q&A session. Head over to the Banking Blog to post your questions on the Reddit thread provided in the description. I’m excited to answer them in an upcoming video or on my Twitter. Stay tuned!
Remember, the world of cryptography and digital security is a fascinating one. It’s a realm where mind-boggling numbers and incredible computational power collide, shaping our understanding of privacy and protection in the digital age.