A recent article from MIT’s Technology Review discussed cloud security (“Security in the Ether”). Most of the article was on how many cloud servers are vulnerable to a particular hack that can uncover private data in server memory/cache. But a good portion of the article was on how to secure data in the cloud and the article discussed a couple of new ideas (to me at least):
- Securing cloud data access by using a key hierarchy – in this way a particular file/table/row could have a hierarchy of keys and thus, could have one master key for the whole datum and subset keys which would provide access to segments of the datum. As such, the patient could hold the master key to their electronic health records while their physicians held subset keys that would allow them to access diagnostic results and other information needed to treat the patient.
- Securing cloud data search by encrypting meta-data – in this way a search key could be encrypted and then the search could execute in the cloud against the encrypted meta-data. As such, meta data and search keys would need to be encrypted in a static fashion so that they would always encrypt to the same cipher text but this could be done with an MD5 hash. Not sure how this might help sorting but it’s certainly a step in the right direction as searches could be performed completely secure while using cloud resources. Subsequent search results could then be easily delivered back to the end user for decryption and use.
- Securing cloud data manipulation by using “ideal lattice” calculations on encrypted data – in this way mathematical manipulations of encrypted data are possible and can be extracted from the cloud for decryption and use. As such, data queries using arithmetic functions such as summing a column of cloud data, can be completely secured and the resultant summation delivered outside the cloud. How this works is beyond me and the mathematics are said to be a bit cumbersome but, it’s still early and may someday become a viable approach.
It seems to me most of this goes way beyond the data archive I would envision for the cloud. With such encryption techniques one could conceivably host one’s data center applications in the cloud and/or use the cloud to serve as data storage for all applications. While this may be the ultimate goal for the cloud it still seems a way off.
So what mathematical functions can be accomplished using an “ideal lattice”?