IBM makes strides towards 'Holy Grail of data encryption'

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IBM has launched a new solution that could potentially allow data to remain encrypted even as it is being processed by cloud computing applications or in third-party environments. The new IBM Security Homomorphic Encryption Services could enable businesses to embrace cloud solutions on a greater scale without exposing themselves to more security risks.

Fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) is viewed by some privacy experts as the “Holy Grail” of data encryption but it has seen little commercial development, due to the high compute requirements and speed decreases that come when working with encrypted data.

Now IBM is offering clients a testing environment to develop prototype applications that can take advantage of FHE. The service will deliver a scalable hosting environment on IBM Cloud, along with managed services to help clients begin learning about and designing prototype solutions that can take advantage of FHE.

Encryption at all times

Through IBM’s FHE technology, clients will be able to apply important business functions like search, analytics, and AI to their data, without needing to decrypt it at any point. IBM has been working on the algorithms behind its new FHE solution for more than a decade in order to ensure that the technology is fast enough for real-world use cases.

“Fully homomorphic encryption holds tremendous potential for the future of privacy and cloud computing, but businesses must begin learning about and experimenting with FHE before they can take full advantage of what it has to offer,” Sridhar Muppidi, Chief Technology Officer at IBM Security, explained. “By bringing IBM’s cryptography expertise and resources to our clients that are driving innovation in their unique industries, we can work together to create a new generation of applications that leverage sensitive data, without compromising its privacy.”

With cyberattacks becoming increasingly sophisticated, IBM may find that a significant number of customers are keen to try its new FHE solution. Gartner estimates that by 2025, one in five businesses will have a budget for projects that include FHE technology, up from less than 1% today.

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.