Saturday, July 4, 2015

Secure Distributed Computation

This is really clever:
Enigma's technique -- what cryptographers call "secure multiparty computation" -- works by mimicking a few of the features of bitcoin's decentralized network architecture: It encrypts data by splitting it up into pieces and randomly distributing indecipherable chunks of it to hundreds of computers in the Enigma network known as "nodes." Each node performs calculations on its discrete chunk of information before the user recombines the results to derive an unencrypted answer. Thanks to some mathematical tricks the Enigma creators implemented, the nodes are able to collectively perform every kind of computation that computers normally do, but without accessing any other portion of the data except the tiny chunk they were assigned.
To keep track of who owns what data -- and where any given data's pieces have been distributed -- Enigma stores that metadata in the bitcoin blockchain, the unforgeable record of messages copied to thousands of computers to prevent counterfeit and fraud in the bitcoin economy.
It's not homomorphic encryption. But it is really clever. Paper here.

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