In this Q&A, Enveil CEO Ellison Anne Williams explains why homomorphic encryption is a privacy game changer.
Excerpt: We spoke to Ellison Anne Williams, founder and CEO of data privacy company Enveil to find out more about why this technology could be a game changer.
BN: What is homomorphic encryption?
EAW: A pillar of the increasingly important business-enabling category of Privacy Enhancing Technologies, homomorphic encryption (HE) secures Data in Use by allowing computations such as search or analytics to be performed while encrypted. In the security world, this may sound as close to magic as you'll get -- but it's not magic, it's math.
An analogy that we use to explain HE clearly is thinking of encryption as a vault protecting sensitive data. Traditional practice requires the data to be removed from the vault so that it can be used or processed. However, in doing so, the data becomes exposed and vulnerable to theft and/or misuse. Using HE, data can be used and processed without it ever having to leave the vault, ensuring that the interaction and the subsequent results remain protected.
Homomorphic encryption is often heralded as the 'holy grail' of cryptography but has, until recently, also been considered computationally impractical for use at scale. However, recent breakthroughs have made it practical for a wide range of game-changing commercial applications. HE has shown its paradigm-shifting potential by revolutionizing how and where organizations can securely and privately leverage data assets.
BN: Why is momentum growing behind Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs)?
EAW: Data is an essential asset for enterprises today, providing critical value when leveraged for intelligence-led decisions -- and the more access to data, the better. To fully take advantage of the benefits and positive business outcomes of increased access to relevant data and sources, organizations need to be able to securely and repeatedly search, analyze, cross-match, and derive insights from cross-department, cross-organizational, and third-party data repositories. Unfortunately, the modern business ecosystem is riddled with challenges that make sharing and collaborating with sensitive or proprietary data fraught with risk. Data localization issues, regional regulatory compliance, competitive dynamics, and data privacy and security considerations all limit the ability of organizations to capitalize on data assets.
PETs are uniquely positioned to address these challenges -- and industry has taken notice. Gartner named PETs among its Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021 and Facebook, in the wake of heightened global privacy concerns, has declared its intention to invest in PETs. As a family of technologies that enable, enhance, and preserve privacy throughout its lifecycle, PETs allow organizations to glean key insights from data while ensuring the content of the search or analytic is never exposed, thereby preserving the privacy and security of sensitive assets. PETs are not only improving current business practices, they are making entirely new business-enabling capabilities possible.
Read the full Q&A at BetaNews.