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What Is Homomorphic Encryption? Why Is It So Transformative?

Source | LinkedIn | Bernard MarrBernard Marr is an influencer | Internationally best-selling author, keynote speaker, futurist, and strategic business & technology advisor

The problem with encrypted data is that you must decrypt it in order to work with it. By doing so, it’s vulnerable to the very things you were trying to protect it from by encrypting it. There is a powerful solution to this scenario: homomorphic encryption. Homomorphic encryption might eventually be the answer for organizations that need to process information while still protecting privacy and security.

What is homomorphic encryption?

Homomorphic encryption makes it possible to analyze or manipulate encrypted data without revealing the data to anyone. Something as simple as looking for a coffee shop when you’re out of town reveals huge volumes of data with third parties as they help you satiate your caffeine craving—the fact that you’re seeking a coffee shop, where you are when you’re searching, what time it is and more. If homomorphic encryption were applied in this fictional coffee search, none of this information would be visible to any of third parties or service providers such as Google. In addition, they wouldn’t be able to see what answer you were given regarding where the coffee shop is and how to get there.

While we might be willing to part with the data that is exposed when we search for our next caffeine fix, homomorphic encryption has huge potential in areas with sensitive personal data such as in financial services or healthcare when the privacy of a person is paramount. In these cases, homomorphic encryption can protect the sensitive details of the actual data, but still, be analyzed and processed.

Another bonus of homomorphic encryption is that unlike other encryption models in use today, it is safe from getting broken by quantum computers.  

Just like other forms of encryption, homomorphic encryption uses a public key to encrypt the data. Unlike other forms of encryption, it uses an algebraic system to allow functions to be performed on the data while it’s still encrypted. Then, only the individual with the matching private key can access the unencrypted data after the functions and manipulation are complete. This allows the data to be and remain secure and private even when someone is using it.

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