Called "fully homomorphic encryption," this encryption method patent may result in software products in the near future.
Normally, encrypted data must be decrypted entirely before any math or programming operations can be run. Homomorphic encryption (HE), however, lets you perform math directly on the encrypted data and have the results show in the underlying data.
From a security viewpoint, there is no need to decrypt any data and expose it to attack.Supposedly, programs (or entire VMs) could run while encrypted and exchange encrypted data between themselves while running.
Bruce Schneier in 2009 pointed out this is not a new technique: "Visions of a fully homomorphic cryptosystem have been dancing in cryptographers' heads for thirty years."
Schneier pointed out this technique could take longer to tun, but IBM claims that Victor Shoup and Shai Halevi of tT. J. Watson Research Center, claim to have taken Gentry's original breakthroughs and implemented them practically, with a released open source, GPL-licensed C++ library to perform HE, mostly meant for researchers working on HE.
"Hopefully in time we will be able to provide higher-level routines," writes Halevi.
Bob Gourley of CTOvision.com writes, "I have seen nothing in any of the research that makes me think a solution can be put in place that cannot be defeated by bad guys. And if that can’t be done then the solution will not solve any problems, it will just add processing overhead."
Since the implemented may not be that efficient, IBM has public challenges for its HE schemes, allowing successful attacks on the Gentry-Halevi implementation of HE to be examined in detail."
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