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December 19, 2019

Forbes: Unlocking The Power Of Secure Data Collaboration

In this article for Forbes, Enveil CEO Ellison Anne Williams discusses the power of Secure Data Collaboration and the technology making it possible.

In the age of the digital economy and the currency of information, the more data, the better. Despite the challenges that accompany large-scale data assets, few of us would argue that we’re better off knowing less or having less information when making a decision. If the data exists, we want it. Access to the right data brings clarity, and increasing data inputs provides a more complete picture of a challenge, thereby opening the door to better, more efficient solutions. In a world where every enterprise is working to optimize business practices and garner unique insights in hopes of gaining even the slightest competitive advantage, data is king.

In many cases, the best way to expand data inputs is by gaining access to external data resources. However, in order for two entities to share data, two things must hold true:

  • The action is mutually beneficial for both parties.
  • The benefits outweigh the risks.

Item one is rarely the issue. In many use cases, including the one we’ll explore in a moment, the mutual value is clear. The gating issue is accessing and using the data without putting either organization at risk. These risks can manifest by introducing new, sensitive variables into the organization’s data holdings that trigger additional reporting requirements and/or by exposing competitive advantage while sharing data between organizations. In a centralized data-sharing model, the risks multiply as data owners lose positive control of their data assets because without that control, ensuring compliance is virtually impossible.

Simply put, we need channels and/or mechanisms to securely put data to use for effective and practical sharing and collaboration. Thanks to sweeping compliance requirements and regulatory directives, this is not something that can be overlooked. Data collaboration today requires the assurance of privacy and security.

To dig into the data collaboration challenge further, let’s examine a specific example in the financial services sector: global efforts to combat fraud and money laundering. According to the United Nations, criminals launder somewhere between 2% and 5% of global GDP through the global financial system every year. This represents losses somewhere in the range of $800 billion to $2 trillion. These activities also enable the criminal networks behind a whole host of other heinous crimes, such as human trafficking, drug running and terrorism.

With losses accumulating at such a jaw-dropping scale, financial institutions are understandably motivated to work together alongside industry, regulatory and law enforcement partners to address the problem -- and to invest in technical solutions that can facilitate this shared advantage. Unfortunately, however, many of the regulatory frameworks put in place to protect consumer privacy work in favor of criminal networks. Banks are unable to efficiently share red flags identifying potential money launderers with other banks -- or even across jurisdictions within their own institution since regulations often limit data sharing across regional boundaries.

Secure data collaboration changes that paradigm. By harnessing the power of a category of technologies that protects data while it’s being processed, entities can securely leverage external data assets in a decentralized manner without exposing sensitive indicators and while respecting the access and verification controls established by the data’s owner. There are a number of companies working to achieve this goal through the use of homomorphic encryption, secure multiparty compute or secure enclave technologies.

Implementing such technologies can, for example, significantly enhance a bank’s standard know your customer (KYC) practices by expanding the information upon which the bank relies when making onboarding decisions. In addition to examining identifying information provided by the applicant, imagine if a bank could securely ask other banks or regulators if the applicant had been a known participant in fraudulent or criminal activity in the past, all in a manner that never exposed the applicant but was decipherable to the other parties. These mechanisms would not automatically disqualify the applicant, but they would trigger enhanced due diligence, increasing the chances for analysts to discover suspicious activities quickly and creating operational efficiencies.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently hosted a TechSprint aimed at bringing attention to and accelerating technology solutioning around these specific challenges. Teams of market participants worked together to demonstrate how the encryption techniques broadly referred to in the U.K. as privacy-enhancing technologies can facilitate secure information sharing while respecting regulatory boundaries. At the conclusion of the week-long event, the developed solutions were presented to regulators, academics, technology companies and financial institutions, and the FCA plans to publish a report detailing the progress made early next year.

This real-world financial services example is only one of the many avenues through which secure data collaboration has the potential to provide disruption. Many other verticals could benefit from the ability to securely collaborate with multiple external data resources in a private, decentralized manner. And even more use cases -- machine learning, internet of things, smart cities, etc. -- can utilize this same conceptual framework to securely and privately expand data inputs and increase their value propositions.

To understand how secure data collaboration could enable capabilities that would benefit your business, start by doing the following:

  • Identify existing areas for exploration and expansion. Take stock of the data you have, where it is and what it is being used for. Could that data be used to drive revenue, expand existing customer engagements or provide premium service offerings?
  • Revisit efforts halted in the past due to regulatory/legal concerns. The innovative tools enabling secure data collaboration are being used to overcome risk barriers that were previously roadblocks. If compliance concerns have been cited as the reason for inactivity in the past, consider whether there is now a viable path forward.
  • Consider opportunities to enrich existing data assets through collaboration with third-party data sources. Examine how assets could be improved or enhanced through access to additional, complementary data sources. Look for opportunities to use technology to increase efficiency through automation and risk mitigation strategies.

Technology advances in recent years paired with growing regulatory barriers make secure data collaboration both possible and necessary -- it’s time to unlock the power.

Read the full article at Forbes.

To learn more about the expanded value unlocked by Enveil, please schedule a meeting.
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Enveil is a pioneering Privacy Enhancing Technology company protecting Data in Use. Enveil’s business-enabling and privacy-preserving capabilities change the paradigm of how and where organizations can leverage data to unlock value. Defining the transformative category of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs), Enveil’s award-winning ZeroReveal® solutions for secure data usage, collaboration, monetization, and Secure AI protect the content of the search, analytic, or model while it's being used or processed. Customers can extract insights, cross-match, search, analyze, and leverage AI across boundaries and silos at scale without exposing their interests and intent or compromising the security or ownership of the underlying data. A World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and Gartner Cool Vendor, Enveil is deployed and operational today, revolutionizing data usage in the global marketplace.
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