Homomorphic Encryption- An Introduction
The phrase Homomorphic Encryption might sound heavy, specially if you are hearing it for the first time, but its whole purpose is to simplify your database and information solutions. Let’s try to understand the term better before getting to know all about it. Homomorphic encryption alludes to an encryption where plain texts and cipher texts both are treated with an equivalent algebraic function. Now, the plain text and the cipher texts might also be not related but the emphasis is on the algebraic operation that works on both of them. This encryption method is all the rage at the moment, more so because homomorphic encryptions can be specifically designed and altered to suit particular purposes. Let’s understand some of these very specific uses.
Secure Watermarking – Watermarking is a new age method of securing content and data. However, over the years too many faulty systems of watermarking had made it very easy for people to encrypt important data without the owners’ knowledge. With homomorphic encryption however, this problem is as good as gone. The encryption method concentrates on altering the ciphering to suit the individual data, effectively individualising the watermark for the data.
Cloud Computing – The logistics of cloud computing is bent on simplifying database management for big companies. The idea is that big companies do not have to pay attention to individual employee details and resources. Rather, they can feed in the basic information in to a cloud to get individual results for each employee. However, one problem in this area is that the encrypted data that the company sends in has to be decrypted before any ciphering work begins on it. This might be a problem as the servers backing the cloud might be hacked and the data might get in the wrong hands. However, homomorphic encryption has removed this basic danger. Craig Gentry, an IBM researcher has developed a specific homomorphic encryption that enables the cloud to work on encrypted data and still give out specific individual results.
Secure Voting Systems – Encryption is very important for security and voting systems need security the most. With homomorphic encryption, it is completely possible to count votes from different ballots in a fraction of the time required to count them manually. Also, the security and accuracy of the vote count remains tight at all times.
Thwarting Personal Information Retrieval Processes – There are many situations that call for a cryptosystem for information retrieval. In the same vein, cryptosystems are utilized to safeguard personal information. With homomorphic encryption it is possible to individualize your security options. This can go a long way in thwarting unwanted personal information retrieval schemes.
The need for a fully homomorphic encryption was felt since the inception of the development of RSA. This dates back to almost the 70s. However, a fully homomorphic cryptosystem was not developed until 2009. This was the PHD thesis by Craig Gentry of IBM.
However, now that the process is clear, it is expected that this method of encryption will lead to a boom in the fields of cloud computing, collision resistant hash functions and many other purposes that will simplify life and add to our security.