News Byte: IBM Opens Path to Analysis of Encrypted Data

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Scrambled data may soon enter marketers' Big Data files.
Scrambled data may soon enter marketers' Big Data files.

IBM announced today it had received a patent for a breakthrough technique that will enable unrestricted analysis of encrypted information without breaching confidentiality. Without being able to access private data, an analyst can mine the same detailed results as if the original data was completely visible.

“Fully homomorphic encryption,” says the company, "solves a problem that computer scientists have been working on since public-key encryption was invented more than 30 years ago."

“Our patented invention has the potential to pave the way for more secure cloud computing services—without having to decrypt or reveal original data,” said Craig Gentry, IBM Researcher and co-inventor on the patent, in a statement. “Fully homomorphic encryption will enable companies to confidently share data and more easily and quickly overcome challenges or take advantage of emerging opportunities.”

The process could allow sharing of more first-party data among marketers by advancing the state of cloud computing security. It's solution, says IBM, can enable vendors or partners to perform computations on client data, such as analyzing sales patterns, without exposing or revealing the original data.

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