Securing the Cloud

It seems as if every day there is a new security breach within the technology world. But it seems that all of this could change very soon. Homomorphic encryption is the promising new technology that promises to make the cloud perfectly secure. This new technology is unique in that a use can send encrypted data through the cloud, and it will return to the user still encrypted. But everything that is new will have a flaw.

The flaw of the homomorphic encryption is that, sometimes, the server needs to know what exactly it is handling; otherwise it will make certain tasks nearly impossible. For example, say the task you are trying to complete is having the cloud search a database for certain records that match your encrypted search item. If the homomorphic encryption has no recollection of what you are searching for or what matches it; it has no other option but to send back all of the records in the database. True, the computer can decipher which records match your search; but then it nearly defeats the purpose of the computer trying to offload this burden to the cloud.

Recently researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory along with researchers from the Microsoft Research department from the University of Toronto presented a new encryption that will eliminate the previously stated problem. This new encryption is known as the functional-encryption scheme. This new scheme allows the cloud to ask such questions as “is this e-mail a spam?” or “do any of these records match?”, and it doesn’t require any other information from the encrypted data. They were able to come up with this new scheme by combining several other schemes together, and each of them provided vital parts for the new scheme. The interesting part about it, is that none of the previous schemes are sufficient on their own; making it necessary that they be combined for a truly sufficient new encryption scheme.

This new research is huge for the technology and computer science world. As the internet grows daily, the concern for protection grows twice as much. Knowing that the researchers are aware of this concern is reassuring and will keep people from distancing themselves from the online world.

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