# Why Quantum Computing Piques The Interest Of The NSA

## Shor’s Factorization Algorithm

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Quantum computers are good at solving non-deterministic polynomial decision problems. So what’s the big deal?

In 1995, Peter Shor first showed how quantum computers could effectively handle such problems. He became the pop star of quantum computing with this algorithm. And arguably, without him, we wouldn’t be here today talking about quantum computing at all.

If you’re interested in quantum computing, and I’m pretty sure you are, check out this video of Peter Shors telling his story firsthand. You don’t want to miss it. He vividly recounts how his findings were making the rounds even before he made them and how they piqued the interest of the NSA.

Shor’s algorithm is said to break modern encryption. And yet it doesn’t. At least not directly. All this algorithm does is factor integers in polynomial time. But how has such a mundane task, which most of us practiced in middle school, caused such an uproar? To understand this excitement, we must first understand how encryption works.

Suppose you have a secret message you want to send to your friend.