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IBM takes another step towards fully homomorphic data encryption

encryption
(Image credit: Image Credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock)

IBM has announced it is ready to give its clients a chance to test its fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) service - a type of system that is widely considered the “Holy Grail” of encryption.

The company unveiled its new FHE solution, called IBM Security Homomorphic Encryption Services, and said it could allow enterprises to further protect their existing IT architecture, products, and data.

FHE is considered the “Holy Grail” of encryption because it is encrypts data in transit as well as when static. This was previously considered impossible because the process demands computing power unattainable until now.

After more than a decade of development, IBM claims the time is right to trial its FHE product. It also said it has refined the FHE algorithms, allowing calculations to be performed in seconds per bit, which makes it “fast enough for many types of real-world use cases and early trials with businesses.”

In one potential use case, users could search and run analytics on their sensitive data in a cloud environment, without needing to reveal that data to the underlying service.

The tool, IBM claims, is based on “lattice” cryptography, which means not even quantum computers could break the encryption.

“Fully homomorphic encryption holds tremendous potential for the future of privacy and cloud computing, but businesses must begin learning about and experimenting with FHE before they can take full advantage of what it has to offer,” said Sridhar Muppidi, Chief Technology Officer at IBM Security.