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With a projected compound annual growth rate of up to 95.6% Between 2021 and 2026, confidential computing is poised to become one of the hottest cybersecurity trends in the coming years, especially in high-risk sectors (and some of our most important ones), such as finance and healthcare.
Let’s see how it changes the game with regard to storing confidential data and which companies are taking this innovative way.
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What is Confidential Computing?
Digitization has always been accompanied by a dilemma about what happens to personal information. Events such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal and countless accounts of major organizations that have had their systems hacked show how much risk there is when we use computers and technology.
On an individual level, it’s bad enough: no one wants their bank details or intimate photos stolen. But for businesses and governments, the consequences of reaching sensitive information are even more worrisome. And there is cause for concern: One report found that the number of data breaches in 2021 grew by 17% compared to 2020. So the problem seems to persist.
Confidential computing offers a solution by protecting data while it is still in use. Unlike most encryption methods, it focuses on data that is still being processed (when it remains unencrypted in memory) rather than after. More specifically, it isolates sensitive information and places it in a separate, protected enclave, usually using cloud technology. Then no one can access the data without an authorized application code – and if an unauthorized code (such as malware) tries to get in, access is denied.
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How confidential computing can change the world
Understanding the theory of confidential computing is a good start, but to properly understand its potential, you need to look at usage scenarios. Since the term itself has “confidential” in its name, the method is an extension of cybersecurity. Since almost every business today relies on cybersecurity to take care of its data at some level, its applications can reach just about any industry or industry; however, it is most beneficial to the companies most at risk in processing data, such as financial and health companies.
Financial services such as banks have always been the target of hacking attacks, potentially resulting in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is therefore a natural place to take serious cybersecurity measures.
Confidential computing would allow different financial institutions to exchange data without making it vulnerable. For example, banks could share data and perform analytics, identifying potentially suspicious patterns, making it easier to detect fraud cases earlier.
Our health is critical to virtually everything we do in life, and sharing data with healthcare providers is inevitable. But sharing it with the wrong hands, such as information about our DNA or diseases, can cause serious problems. Cybersecurity is vital in this regard, and confidential computing could provide a solution by protecting data, even as healthcare professionals use it.
Confidential computing could pave the way for using the data previously considered too risky. For example, collecting data on critically ill patients and using AI to find and understand patterns that may be affecting them. Meanwhile, healthcare organizations have been notoriously slow to adapt to these new technologies, in part because of the complications of securing the data.
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Companies lead the way
Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest names in technology and computer science are leading the way in confidential computing.
Google Cloud is Google’s confidential computer offering and allows customers to encrypt their data as they use it via advanced CPUs. Plus, people can collaborate without compromising security, which is critical for businesses running dynamic processes.
Then there’s IBM, which has a range of confidential computing services, including IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Cloud Services (which provides end-to-end protection), IBM Cloud Data Shield (for containerized applications), and Secure Execution for Linux (for hybrid cloud environments).
Another name to look at is Microsoft Azure, Microfot’s cloud computing service to protect corporate and consumer data as they use it. Microsoft stores data in hardware and processes it after verifying the cloud environment to ensure security.
But there are also some lesser-known companies with some promising innovations. One of them is the leading Israeli cyber company Hub Security, which uses a variety of hardware and software solutions to store data, in addition to AI tools to monitor data and continuously model potential threats. This could help solve some of the health care and finance problems outlined earlier.
Hub has already approved a merger with a special acquisition company worth $1.28 billion. The deal gives Hub $172 million to fund its business and potentially money from institutional investors in Israel and the US. The deal shows investors recognizing its potential — as far as picking early winners in confidential computing, it seems like one to watch.
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A more confidential future?
As confidential computing reinvents how business and security is conducted across industries, the companies at the heart of the industry, providing the technology and tools needed for confidential computing, will grow and thrive rapidly.