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Microsoft team demonstrate new step towards cloud security

A team of Microsoft researchers have developed a practical form of homomorphic encryption aimed at keeping data secure.

cloud security

A team from Microsoft is looking to crack one of the thorniest problems in cloud computing, keeping data safe in a cloud when, by definition, a third party has access to that data.

It's a problem that is keeping many organisations away from cloud computing even though the technology offers many other advantages.

The team at Microsoft, however, have developed a technique that enables organisation to perform analysis on encrypted data without having to decrypt a move that will greatly improve the security of any data held in the cloud.

The technique, called homomorphic encryption, also ensures that the data emerges from the analysis fully decrypted.

In a paper written by Microsoft researchers Kristin Lauter,Vinod Vaikutanathan and Michael Naehrig, the research team point out that although there's a need for encryption to meet the security concerns of customers it was hard to "ignore the elephant in the room, namely efficiency." The researchers go on to point out that "all known fully homomorphic encryption schemes have a long way to go before they can be used in practice."

The Microsoft team claims that it has cracked some of the efficiency issues by using what they call a "somewhat" form of homomorphic encryption, which does not have the full capabilities of the technology but offers enough to be practical.

The researchers also state that they have demonstrated how the technology can be used in practical situations, for example, medical records - a clear example of where the Microsoft technology would have real practical use.

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