|By Gilad Parann-Nissany||
|June 4, 2014 12:00 PM EDT||
Suppose you want to hire someone to do a job for you, but you suspect she might leak sensitive details of your business to your enemies. The immediate solution: don’t hire her. But real life is often not so clear cut. Your prospective employee may be very good at a particular job, and you don’t want to lose her skills; while the risk that she turns bad may be low and you need the job done.
This general real life problem has had many solutions over the centuries. People have written contracts with confidentiality clauses, threatened court action, come up with rules for the workplace, tried to instill pride in their workforce, and sometimes they’ve even begged for good behavior.
One particularly nice concept: suppose you could give the job to the talented lady, but seal it in an opaque black sack. She wouldn’t be able to see inside, but would manipulate pieces by putting her hands into the dark sack to get the job done. This way, she would use her talents without discovering your secrets.
The disadvantage is obvious: very few jobs can actually be done blindly, without knowledge and mutual trust. But there are real life examples of the black bag approach. For example, spies work in “cells” designed so that they know as little as possible about other “cells.”
Cloud computing and homomorphic encryption
Cloud computing can suffer from some of the problems we described above. Suppose you have sensitive data information: health data, financial data, or military secrets. And imagine you need to use a cloud “as a service” solution that takes your data and produces a report. The goal is to compare all the pieces of data and find the “important flukes.” In healthcare, an important fluke could be overpayment for a patient’s treatment. In finance, it could be a credit card fraud event. In the military, it could be data about a cyber-attack hiding between normal pieces of data.
In each of these cases, the “normal” data is sensitive: health, money, “normal” military activity. Still, for valid reason, you cannot do the analysis yourself in your own “secure” space. Somebody else has the expertise to do this particular analysis for you, and is using cloud computing because the job involves massive amounts of computational power.
Your find yourself with sensitive data in a cloud, on servers you do not own, and a programs running there which you may not own either.
Cloud encryption is always about hiding secrets.
You take a bunch of readable data and make it unreadable by scrambling the characters and numbers in the data so they don’t make sense. Only someone who has the “encryption key” can reverse the process, decrypt the data, and make it readable again. A typical decryption key could be 64 random characters long, yet by using known encryption techniques (like AES, “Advanced Encryption Standard”), that key can make terabytes completely scrambled and unreadable. Only if you have those 64 characters, the key, can you reverse the process and make the terabytes readable again.
In our case, however, there is a twist. We want the data to be completely unreadable, but we want the program mentioned before (the one running on servers you do not own and doing a job that requires expertise and computing power the cloud provides) to be able to do its job.
Ideally, we want the program to do its job on data that is always encrypted (and remains encrypted) and successfully come up with a useful result.
Homomorphic encryption makes this possible. Homomorphic encryption is a set of encryption techniques that will scramble the data based on a key, but allow a program to do some useful work on the unreadable encrypted data. The program cannot understand the data, but it can do something useful on it, without giving it away: an opaque black sack for cloud computing.
Steps to homomorphic encryption: examples of “something useful”
People have started figuring out useful things that can be done to encrypted data by taking a practical approach. Instead of saying that anything can be done in the black sack, people are starting out by saying that something can be done. Here are some examples of “something:”
- A specific statistical function, perhaps taking the average of two numbers.
Both numbers are encrypted and the result is also encrypted. Only the holder of the encryption key can know the real values of the numbers and the result. However, a machine in the cloud can take the encrypted values and average them, sending an encrypted result back to the “owner.” The owner can then decrypt that result back at home.
- Searching a person’s genome data to find whether that person has a specific gene that is especially harmful to health while protecting privacy.
The data that describes the genome is encrypted as is the description of the specific gene being searched. Both are uploaded to the cloud servers and the result comes back: the gene is either found or not. But only the person who owns the encryption key knows the genome (and the identity of the human being with that genome); and only they know what they were looking for. Was it a gene that may signal cancer? Or perhaps a gene that may signal high blood pressure? Only they know.
Techniques like these have been described in academic literature. They have not yet been commercialized, but they can really work. You’ll notice that the researchers have been smart. They focused on a useful and specific problem that can most likely be solved. This is sometimes called “partially homomorphic encryption” and sometimes called “somewhat homomorphic encryption” because the scheme is constructed with one focused goal in mind. It doesn’t try to solve everything.
Fully homomorphic encryption
A more ambitious approach is fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). The Holy Grail is to encrypt any data for any purpose, so that a program running on cloud servers could do almost anything to the data and generate useful results. But only the owner of the data could actually understand the data and understand the result, because only the owner has the key. The running cloud servers would run on encrypted data and produce an encrypted result.
This would be great to have. Recently, Gentry made progress in this field by showing that any function that is made up of additions and multiplications can be computed on homomorphically encrypted data, using what has naturally become called the Gentry scheme.
“Any combination of additions and multiplications” really is quite a lot – in fact almost any math function can be broken down into additions and multiplications, so Gentry’s result is quite strong.
However, there are some practical limitations that have thus far, stopped us from using FHE. One is performance; which can be billions of times slower than the “somewhat” or “partial” approach. Though it is currently being worked on, a big gap persists.
Another limitation to FHE is the kind of problem it can solve. Suppose you wanted to use FHE with a medical expert system. Such systems work more with questions and answers then with addition and multiplication. They try to diagnose a disease based on gathering patient information, applying some logical rules and then asking more questions. This is a logical process and a major part of it is interactive – asking questions and learning. The best of these systems also constantly change their rules, as they learn more about how patients and diseases really work. Is a learning system based on rules and interactive back-and-forth questions and reasoning – easily broken down into addition and multiplication?
So FHE has limitations based on performance and limitations based on type of problem it might solve.
Are there any commercial implementations of homomorphic encryption?
The world’s first commercial implementation is Homomorphic Key Management, a “partially homomorphic” approach. Homomorphic Key Management is focused on the specific problem of encrypting the encryption keys themselves and keeping them safe and secret in the cloud, while still being able to use them for encrypting data. This work was done by Porticor in 2011-2012 and a commercial product entered the market at the end of 2012.
Several academic teams are now working on bringing additional “somewhat homomorphic” approaches to market, though as far as we know, none other has yet been commercialized. We hopefully look toward the coming years to produce commercial results relevant to the study of many fields, such as genomics and specific computations within databases.
In parallel, Academia continues to work hard on making FHE more efficient.
The post Homomorphic Encryption and Cloud Security: The Practicalities appeared first on Porticor Cloud Security.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
Apr. 26, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,273
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
Apr. 25, 2015 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,032
SYS-CON Events announced today the DevOps Foundation Certification Course, being held June ?, 2015, in conjunction with DevOps Summit and 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps – the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will res...
Apr. 25, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,532
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provide...
Apr. 25, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,421
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Apr. 25, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,486
SYS-CON Events announced today that Soha will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Soha delivers enterprise-grade application security, on any device, as agile as the cloud. This turnkey, cloud-based service enables customers to solve secure application access and delivery challenges that traditional or virtualized network solutions cannot solve because they are too expensive, inflexible and operational...
Apr. 25, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,701
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will mee...
Apr. 25, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,930
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch ...
Apr. 25, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,886
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable o...
Apr. 25, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,531
of cloud, colocation, managed services and disaster recovery solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. TierPoint, LLC, is a leading national provider of information technology and data center services, including cloud, colocation, disaster recovery and managed IT services, with corporate headquarters in St. Louis, MO. TierPoint was formed through the strategic combination of some of t...
Apr. 25, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,663
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Apr. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,510
Public Cloud IaaS started it's life in the developer and startup communities and has grown rapidly to a $20B+ industry, but it still pales in comparison to how much is spent worldwide on IT: $3.6 trillion. In fact, there are 8.6 million data centers worldwide, the reality is many small and medium sized business have server closets and colocation footprints filled with servers and storage gear. While on-premise environment virtualization may have peaked at 75%, the Public Cloud has lagged in ado...
Apr. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,315
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) ap...
Apr. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,575
SYS-CON Events announced today that GENBAND, a leading developer of real time communications software solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The GENBAND team will be on hand to demonstrate their newest product, Kandy. Kandy is a communications Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that enables companies to seamlessly integrate more human communications into their Web and mobile applicatio...
Apr. 25, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,748
SYS-CON Events announced today that BroadSoft, the leading global provider of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) services to operators worldwide, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BroadSoft is the leading provider of software and services that enable mobile, fixed-line and cable service providers to offer Unified Communications over their Internet Protocol networks. The Compa...
Apr. 25, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,559
Apr. 25, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,382
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the...
Apr. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,236
ProfitBricks has launched its new DevOps Central and REST API, along with support for three multi-cloud libraries and a Python SDK. This, combined with its already existing SOAP API and its new RESTful API, moves ProfitBricks into a position to better serve the DevOps community and provide the ability to automate cloud infrastructure in a multi-cloud world. Following this momentum, ProfitBricks has also introduced several libraries that enable developers to use their favorite language to code ...
Apr. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,704
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to off...
Apr. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,861
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquir...
Apr. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,671