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What is Confidential Computing and How Can It Be Used?

16 April 2021

There’s a new buzzword at the moment that you may have heard of called ‘confidential computing’. You might be wondering what it is, and what it could mean for your business. Let’s take a look at all the ins and outs.

So, what exactly is confidential computing?

In a nutshell, confidential computing is a breakthrough cloud computing technology, which allows you to encrypt data in use, while it’s being processed. 

Although it’s been possible before now to encrypt data when it’s being stored or when it’s in transit, it hasn’t been possible to encrypt it while it’s in use. After all, how would you be able to work with it?

How is confidential computing used?

As a bit of background information, the technology is being developed by the Confidential Computing Consortium, which was formed under The Linux Foundation and includes tech giants such as Google, Intel, IBM/RedHat, Microsoft, Facebook and many more. 

The main goal of the emerging technology is to encourage users to move their sensitive data over to public cloud services, such as Google Cloud for instance. As many more companies rely on cloud and public services, data privacy and protection is of primary concern. With this in mind, it makes sense that the next logical step in securing private information would be ensuring that it’s not open to vulnerabilities whilst being used.

What are the benefits of confidential computing?

With the use of confidential computing, there will be a higher level of assurance offered to companies that the data in the cloud is being protected and that it is remaining confidential. The data will only be accessible to the authorised programming code, and invisible to anyone or anything else, including the cloud provider. 

Another benefit of confidential cloud computing is that it’s easy for everyone to use – customers are able to encrypt data in use without making any code changes to their applications or having to compromise on speed or performance. 

But how does this work in real businesses? Well, a big plus point of the new initiative is that companies can combine their data, without ever seeing or accessing each other’s information. 

One example of this would be a retailer and credit card company checking transaction data for fraud, without ever exposing user data. This is obviously not just a big tick for the retailer involved, but also for the end user who can be confident that their personal information will not be compromised when transacting online. 

There are also other benefits of confidential cloud computing that are not just for data protection – the technology can also be used to protect intellectual property. 

A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) can also be used to protect applications, machine learning algorithms, analytics functions and proprietary business logic. For example, a trading platform can live inside a TEE, meaning that the algorithm used to trade wouldn’t be shared, and neither would the data. 

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We hope you found this introduction to confidential computing informative and insightful.

Are you looking for a specific cyber solution, or interested in learning more about our full range of IT services? Get in touch with ICT Solutions today – we can help keep you, your data and your business safe.