You will not be surprised to learn that the NSA is spending nearly $80 million trying to build "a cryptologically useful quantum computer." The Washington Post just published details of the program, codenamed "Penetrating Hard Targets," based on documents supplied by Edward Snowden.
Yes, it's terrifying. But it's hardly surprising. A quantum computer is one of the holy grail of technological innovation right now, and scientists have been struggling to build one. Whereas regular computers work with digital systems to process information, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, as opposed to bits (ones and zeroes). Qubits can represent a one, a zero or anything in between, which gives the computer exponentially more power. That's obviously great when it comes to solving very difficult problems like cracking sophisticated encryption.