Blog Archive: 2010

Computing with Secrets

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Tom Simonite of Technology Review interviewed me about the breakthrough in fully homomorphic encryption that I blogged about here. I very much enjoyed talking with him, and was pleased to see that he wrote a good article on the subject: Computing with Secrets, but Keeping them Safe: A cryptographic method could see cloud services work with sensitive data without ever decrypting it. He quotes me a couple of times on the second page of the article and generously gives me the last word.

I’ve been surprised at how little has been written about this breakthrough, little enough that my blog post continues to be among the top 20 hits for a number of related queries. The field is definitely hot, with DARPA recently announcing two related solicitations, DARPA-RA-10-80 and DARPA-BAA-10-81, on PROgramming Computation on EncryptEd Data (PROCEED). The first solicits research proposals for development of new mathematical foundations for efficient computation on encrypted data via fully homomorphic encryption. The second solicitation is broader, with the goal of developing practical methods for computation on encrypted data without decrypting the data and modern programming languages to describe these computations.

Computing with Secrets, but Keeping them Safe

Computing with Secrets, but Keeping them Safe

How to compute without knowing anything

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In my post on quantum inspired classical results, I gave as one example Gentry’s recent discovery of a fully homomorphic encryption scheme. His beautiful work deserves its own blog post. Initially I approached his work with trepidation, worried that it would be so technical I would not understand anything without a lot of work. Others have mentioned not  having looked at his work for the same reason. That is a shame! While the details are technical, the key idea, bootstrappable encryption, is both a non-obvious approach and an easily understandable concept.  I remember smiling while I read the first couple of pages of his paper in response to the elegance and surprising simplicity of his approach.

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