So you want to store sensitive information in “the cloud,” and even borrow the cloud’s computing power – but you don’t want the cloud to learn anything about the data you’re sending. That’s where UC Irvine mathematical researchers come in. The challenge is how to go about computing with encrypted data. A message that has been encrypted, or disguised, only can be read if its intended recipient possesses the key that decodes the encryption. With today’s systems, if you ask the cloud to perform a calculation on your data, but withhold the key, the cloud would not be able to carry out your request. It’s a mathematical frontier that has puzzled researchers for decades.
Recent developments, however, may place the answer within reach. Researchers at
UCI are working on a system of nested encryptions that would allow an encrypted query to be sent to the cloud, and the cloud to carry out the requested calculation, returning the answer in encrypted form – all without ever being able to “peer inside” the encrypted data or learn any details about what it was calculating. The work could have major implications for data storage of the future, and even for national security.