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Microsoft Looks to Crack Cloud Security

11 August 2011 by James Crawshaw

Microsoft is looking to crack one of the key problems in cloud hosting; keeping data secure.

Even though the technology offers many advantages, data security is one issue that is putting some companies off switching to the cloud.

The team at Microsoft, however, has developed a technique that enables organisations 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 solved 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.