As part of its 2021 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, analysts at Gartner recently called out homomorphic encryption as an emerging technology organizations should explore to help secure competitive advantage. Here is more from Ellison Anne Williams on why this is a technology you need to know:
"By its most basic definition, homomorphic encryption (HE) protects data while it’s being used or processed by allowing computations to occur in the encrypted or ciphertext domain. This is different from the more familiar types of encryption that protect data as it moves through the network or while it’s at rest on the file system. It can be helpful to think of the distinction between these three states of data — at rest, in transit, and in use — as three points of a triangle. While all are important, Data in Use is the segment that is most frequently overlooked, in part because it’s a hard problem to solve but also because, until fairly recently, there was a lack of scalable, practical, commercial-ready solutions.
To help visualize the concept of Data in Use protection, imagine encryption as a vault protecting sensitive data. Traditional practice requires taking data out of the vault every time it needs to be used or processed (to perform a search, apply analytics, evaluate a machine learning model, etc.). This exposure leaves both the data and the operation exposed and vulnerable. HE changes the game by allowing these actions to take place without extracting sensitive data from the protected vault of encryption, as it can also protect the operation and its corresponding results. This ensures sensitive interactions — for example, the interests and intentions of the party performing a search — remain protected throughout the processing lifecycle.
These powerful capabilities have led to HE being referred to as the “holy grail” of cryptography, and they are also why it has been the subject of research and academic pursuit for nearly four decades. Once computationally impractical for use at scale, performance and utilization breakthroughs over the past several years have prompted increased exploration and adoption in a number of market verticals. And while there continues to be a lot of great progress being made in the academic and research communities, HE has proved that it’s now ready for the move to real-world deployments."
Read the full text of the article at IDG Connect.