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Homomorphic Encryption – Making It Real

Homomorphic Encryption

Welcome to a primer for homomorphic encryption (HE) – an innovative and powerful technology that is reshaping the data privacy and security landscape. HE fills a major gap in data security and privacy by providing a quantum-safe cryptographic method for addressing data-in-use. By allowing computations to be performed on encrypted data without having to decrypt it first, homomorphic encryption represents a significant breakthrough in the field of cryptography. But before delving deeper into this transformative technology, it is necessary to have a fundamental understanding of what encryption is and how typical encryption methods have been used for secure data storage.

Encryption, in its simplest form, is the process of converting plaintext data into ciphertext to prevent unauthorized access. This is achieved by using an encryption algorithm and a secret key – a cryptographic variable that modifies the algorithm’s actions. This combination effectively puts the data in encrypted form and shields it from being accessed or understood unless you have access to the secret key that can decrypt it back into plaintext. Traditional methods of encryption have played a vital role in data protection for data-at-rest, especially in an era where sensitive information is increasingly being stored and threatened in digital formats.

However, the limitation of traditional encryption methods has always been clear: once data is encrypted, it cannot be used or processed until it has been decrypted. This complicates tasks that require data processing, as you must choose between protecting your data through encryption and utilizing it for analysis or computations. This is where homomorphic encryption comes into play.

Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE), as a concept, was first envisioned by cryptographer Craig Gentry in 2009. It is a form of encryption that permits users to perform mathematical operations on its encrypted data. One could analyze and draw valuable insights from encrypted data, without ever needing to decrypt it. It essentially reconciles the conflict between data utility and security, enabling entities to use the data while still maintaining its encrypted state for protection. FHE is arguably the most important breakthrough for the private and secure use of data in the 21st century. We’ve used encryption to secure data at rest and in transit, with process-driven workarounds to address risk when using data. The lack of a technological solution for securing data-in-use has been a great hindrance to data acquisition, collaboration, and generally, data-driven growth initiatives. This is especially true today as privacy laws continue to become more common and more stringent.

With a solid understanding of encryption fundamentals and the transformative potential of fully homomorphic encryption, we turn our attention to Duality Tech. Established by renowned cryptographers and seasoned data scientists, Duality Tech has been a pioneer in developing and applying Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) to make secure collaboration possible on sensitive data. Duality Tech’s innovative solutions empower organizations to share and process encrypted data without compromising its security or privacy. Leading global organizations such as DARPA, Deloitte, Intel, IBM, Oracle, Google, AWS, and more have already recognized the substantial potential of Duality Tech’s pioneering work in fully homomorphic encryption. Let’s continue our exploration of this fascinating technology.

Understanding the Mechanics Behind Fully Homomorphic Encryption

Delving further into the realm of encryption, let’s examine how fully homomorphic encryption distinguishes itself from classical methods. The bedrock of traditional encryption is confidentiality – ensuring that data, once encrypted, remains inaccessible to unauthorized users. However, this level of security comes at a price, as the need to decrypt data for use often results in privacy compromises. That’s where homomorphic encryption breaks the mold.

When clarifying homomorphic encryption, it’s vital to tackle a couple of terms: ‘somewhat’ and ‘fully’ homomorphic encryption. Developed by Craig Gentry in 2009, the first somewhat homomorphic encryption scheme led to the revolutionary creation of the fully homomorphic encryption scheme. Both homomorphic schemes allow computations to be carried out on encrypted data, but they differ significantly in extent.

Somewhat homomorphic encryption supports two types of operations, addition, and multiplication, but only for a subset of circuits. On the other hand, fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) can theoretically manage an unlimited range of mathematical operations. Thus, FHE has the potential to solve the dual purpose of keeping data both secure and computationally friendly, significantly elevating its commercial value and utility.

The magic of homomorphic encryption technology lies in its unique trait where, even after performing various computations on the encrypted data, the result remains encrypted. Upon decryption, this result corresponds to the output one would obtain had the operations been performed on the original, unencrypted data. This property is precisely what keeps third parties from accessing sensitive information. Even if they manage to compute using the encrypted data, without the secret key, the resultant data would remain encrypted and unintelligible.

Duality Tech’s open-source library offers the implementation of fully homomorphic encryption. Our open-source fully homomorphic encryption library is a quantum-safe cryptographic method that uses FHE schemes to allow users to run computations or queries on data without decrypting it. This technology allows us to use data and collaborate in ways that were previously blocked by security and privacy concerns. It streamlines data-driven growth initiatives by eliminating the need for bulky and limited privacy processes. It’s a cloud-agnostic piece of software that is installed at the site of each data owner and/or analyzing party. The software is then configured to encrypt selected data sets and allow preapproved computations from approved parties with built-in governance controls. Encrypted queries or computations are run on the encrypted data, the encrypted results are returned to the analyzer still and decrypted by them alone. No one but the data owner has raw access to the data while enabling the extraction of insights from the involved datasets. So, in some sense, FHE is a fundamental magic, in that it flips the traditional purpose of encryption, which is to prevent people from accessing or using data. Now we have encryption to do the opposite, which is a shocking revelation. Once understood, it becomes a major relief in that it enables growth while reducing significant data risks. This has tremendous implications for multiple industries, for government, and society at large.

Real-World Applications of Homomorphic Encryption 

Understanding the mechanics of homomorphic encryption sets the stage for its numerous intriguing and valuable applications. With its exclusive capability of maintaining the confidentiality of data during computations, this powerful technology has immense applications across a broad spectrum of industries and governmental activities. 

In government sectors, FHE serves as a catalyst for confidential investigations by unlocking a multitude of data sources. This breakthrough expedites the investigative process and allows agencies to tap into a broader spectrum of information without compromising security. Our innovative “Zero Footprint Investigations” solution is revolutionizing the way government agencies acquire and handle sensitive data related to investigations. This solution enables agencies to keep the subjects of their investigations completely confidential while still accessing and analyzing crucial data sources. FHE streamlines the often cumbersome processes that were traditionally required to maintain the confidentiality of investigations. Government bodies like the SOAA have embraced FHE, incorporating it as an underlying technology to drive data-driven initiatives and achieve their goals efficiently.

In the financial services industry, FHE emerges as a powerful tool for cross-border collaboration in the fight against financial fraud. Real-world examples, such as our IMDA case study with Mastercard, showcase how FHE enables secure data sharing and analysis across international borders. By leveraging FHE’s capabilities, financial institutions can enhance their fraud detection and prevention efforts by tapping into data they originally would not have access to. This innovative approach not only strengthens security measures but also fosters global cooperation in combating financial crimes.

In the healthcare industry, FHE is a critical enabler of secure and efficient data collaboration. The recent global pandemic underscored the pressing need for enhanced collaboration among healthcare researchers and organizations. FHE provides a secure framework for sharing and analyzing sensitive medical data, addressing challenges related to privacy and data protection. A notable case study published by PNAS exemplifies the power of FHE in linking cancer patient data with genomic information from diverse and disparate sources. This breakthrough facilitates comprehensive disease research and paves the way for more effective prevention and mitigation efforts. FHE empowers healthcare professionals and researchers to harness the full potential of data-driven insights while ensuring the utmost confidentiality and security of patient information, ushering in a new era of collaboration in the healthcare industry.

FHE empowers information service providers and data brokers to eliminate the need for large-scale data transfers by enabling secure computations on encrypted data, thus streamlining interactions with government and public entities. Furthermore, it removes data localization restrictions for specific datasets, significantly broadening the total addressable market. This means that information service providers and data brokers can operate more efficiently, serve a larger client base, and offer data-driven solutions that were previously hindered by security concerns.

This technology isn’t limited to just these sectors. From government sectors to data brokers, homomorphic encryption broadens the opportunities for secure collaboration and sharing of sensitive data and is revolutionizing the way these industries operate, empowering them to harness the power of secure and efficient data analytics. 

Navigating the complexities of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) can be daunting, but that’s where Duality Tech is here to help. One of the major challenges in adopting PETs is their inherent complexity, especially when it comes to utilizing tools like our openFHE library to create applications. Understanding this, Duality not only develops but also applies these privacy technologies into a single, user-friendly platform. This eliminates the need for advanced cryptographic expertise, making secure data collaboration accessible to a wider audience. Our skilled team of expert cryptographers and data scientists work tirelessly to leverage fully homomorphic encryption for secure collaboration on sensitive data. By operationalizing PETs, we enable secure analysis of encrypted data, ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations while safeguarding valuable intellectual property. Stick around as we dive deeper into the future implications of this exciting technology.

The Future of Homomorphic Encryption with Duality Tech

Homomorphic encryption represents a transformative technology that redefines the landscape of data privacy and security. As our reliance on data continues to grow, predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have become increasingly integral to decision-making processes. The availability and security of data are paramount. Traditional encryption methods like the somewhat homomorphic encryption scheme or CKKS scheme, fall short of meeting the demands of an expanding data ecosystem that must also adhere to stringent privacy regulations. Duality Tech’s fully homomorphic encryption offers a unique solution by allowing computations on encrypted data, bridging the gap between data security, privacy, and usability.

This paradigm shift holds immense promise for the future, especially in an era where cloud computing is central to data processing. Homomorphic encryption is emerging as a stronghold against the threat of quantum computers, which can swiftly crack traditional encryption methods. Homomorphic encryption, primarily based on lattice-based cryptography, offers resilience against quantum attacks, positioning it as a candidate for post-quantum cryptography.

Duality Tech actively innovates privacy enhancing technologies to drive secure data collaboration. Our multi-PET approach, coupled with the continued development of individual PETs, significantly expands potential use cases as not all PETs are created equal. By combining different technologies, such as Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) and Multi-Party Computation (MPC), as highlighted in the PNAS study, we can enhance data security and functionality. This innovative combination allows for a more robust and versatile application of PETs, opening new avenues for secure data analysis. Our PET-powered solutions empower government agencies and numerous industries to securely collaborate on sensitive data, unlocking new possibilities for data utilization while rigorously maintaining privacy and compliance standards. Duality Tech serves as a bridge between promising technology and practical application, creating a future where data security is a catalyst for progress. Welcome to the future of data privacy. Welcome to Duality Tech!

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