Can 'encrypted blobs' help with secure cloud computing?

"That's the vision," says IBM senior manager for secure software and service, J.R. Rao

Can cloud-based computing be made more secure in the future using what crypto geeks call "fully homomorphic encryption" to send data as "encrypted blobs" that can be understood and subject to processing without having to actually de-crypt them first to see the plaintext?

"That's the vision," says J.R. Rao, IBM's senior manager for secure software and services at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. He notes that breakthrough mathematical work in fully homomorphic encryption done by IBM researcher Craig Gentry is providing a "foundation for the encrypted path" that IBM hopes will radically improve how data can be kept secret and confidential.

RESOURCE: Network World’s Cloud Computing Research Center

But Rao acknowledges the feeling that it's all still a bit like the Wright brothers' first flight in aviation, with some practical developments needed before everyone climbs on board.

Today, data can be encrypted using a variety of techniques, but in order to do anything that might have to be done with the data, it's necessary to decrypt it. "Today, to work with data, you have to work with data in the clear," Rao notes. "And that can be a problem." Instead, the idea is to create "encrypted blobs" that don't have to be decrypted and still allow for many practical applications by being combined with and processed by other encrypted blobs. "But you know what's encrypted in the blobs," says Rao.

But others don't. With what has been ground-breaking development work in fully homomorphic encryption, it's possible.

IBM is convinced the basis is there to do a wide variety of things with encrypted blobs, including computational arithmetic on encrypted data, which could be useful in the financial sector. Or privacy-enhancement for Web services, such as searching, which would keep search engines from building up profiles on people. And in cloud computing, it would be a way to store data so that there could be authorized processing of it without it having to be changed into cleartext and then encrypted again.

"We're in the process of working on that now," says Rao. The goal is that "if end users are submitting private and sensitive information in the cloud," they would know that data would be kept confidential as encrypted blobs. "We're now figuring out how to do this in cloud computing," he says, but adds that IBM is not at the stage to announce products or services yet.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cloud computinginternetIBMData Centerhardware systemsKMIPConfiguration / maintenance

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?