Confidential computing is a new cybersecurity technology that will likely play a crucial part in keeping our data secure and confidential. Here is why and how it will affect some of humanity’s most vital businesses.
Confidential computing is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of up to 95.6% between 2021 and 2026, making it one of the hottest developments in cybersecurity over the next several years, particularly in high-risk industries (and some of our most vital) such as finance and healthcare.
Let’s examine how it’s altering the game in terms of keeping sensitive data and which organisations are leading the way in this creative direction.
What exactly is confidential computing?
Digitalization has always presented a dilemma about the fate of personal data. Events such as the Cambridge Analytica debacle and other reports of large corporations having their computer systems hacked demonstrate how vulnerable we are when using computers and technology.
It is bad enough on a personal level; no one wants their bank information or private images were taken. But for businesses and governments, the repercussions of gaining access to sensitive data are far more concerning. One survey indicated that the frequency of data breaches in 2021 increased by 17% compared to the previous year. So it appears that the issue is here to stay.
The solution provided by confidential computing is the protection of data while it is in use. It focuses on data that are still being processed (while it remains unencrypted in memory), as opposed to data that has already been encrypted. Specifically, it isolates sensitive data and stores it in a separate, protected enclave, employing cloud technology in most cases. Then, no one can access the data without an authorised application code, and access is denied to any unauthorised code (such as malware) that attempts to enter.
How secure computing might transform the world
Understanding the idea of confidential computing is a good starting point, but to fully grasp its potential, it is necessary to examine use scenarios. Given that the term itself contains the word “confidential,” the method is an extension of cybersecurity. Since practically every business relies on cybersecurity to protect its data, the applications could reach any sector or industry; nevertheless, it is most advantageous for companies that face the most danger while managing data, such as banking and healthcare.
Financial institutions, such as banks, have always been vulnerable to cyber assaults, which can result in losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Therefore, it is a natural location to apply stringent cybersecurity measures.
Confidential computing would allow different financial institutions to exchange data without exposing it; for instance, banks might share data and do analysis to discover potentially suspicious trends, which would make it simpler to detect fraud situations earlier.
Sharing data with healthcare professionals is unavoidable given the importance of our health to virtually all aspects of our lives. But sharing it with the wrong people, such as DNA or medical information, could cause catastrophic difficulties. Cybersecurity is crucial in this context, and confidential computing could offer a solution by securing data even as healthcare workers utilise it.
Confidential computing could pave the path for data uses that were previously thought too dangerous. For instance, gathering data on individuals in critical condition and utilising artificial intelligence to identify trends and determine what they may be suffering from. In the meanwhile, healthcare institutions have been notoriously sluggish to adopt these new technologies, due in part to the complexities of data security.
Companies that set the standard
Unsurprisingly, the leaders in confidential computing are some of the biggest brands in technology and computers.
Google Cloud is Google’s service for secure computing, and it enables clients to encrypt their data while utilising it on sophisticated CPUs. In addition, it enables collaboration without compromising security, which is essential for firms with dynamic processes.
IBM offers a variety of secure computing services, such as IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Cloud Services (offering end-to-end security), IBM Cloud Data Shield (for containerized apps), and Secure Execution for Linux (for hybrid cloud environments).
Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service that protects business and consumer data while it is used, is another name to keep an eye on. Microsoft keeps data on hardware and processes it after ensuring the security of the cloud environment.
However, there are also a few lesser-known firms with potential inventions. One of them is the top Israeli cyber company Hub Security, which employs a variety of hardware and software solutions for data storage, as well as AI capabilities for continuously monitoring data and modelling potential risks. This could aid in resolving some of the healthcare and financial issues described above.
Hub has already approved a $1.28 billion merger with a special-purpose acquisition firm. The transaction will provide Hub with $172 million to fund its business, in addition to prospective funding from Israeli and American institutional investors. The transaction demonstrates that investors realise its potential; in terms of identifying early winners in confidential computing, it appears to be one to watch.
A more confidential future?
As confidential computing revolutionises how business and security are conducted across multiple industries, the companies at the core of the industry, who provide the necessary technology and tools for confidential computing, are expected to thrive and grow significantly.