Fortanix\’s new search technology for encrypted data spells the end of plaintext.

The cybersecurity firm Fortanix of Mountain View, California has released a new function called Confidential Data Search that enables quick and limitless searches of encrypted data. Companies in highly regulated sectors, such as banking and healthcare, have a significant difficulty that is addressed by the new software tool: how to utilise sensitive data to fuel corporate activities while maintaining rigorous privacy and compliance standards.

It was announced that the new device will debut at the 2023 Confidential Computing Summit on June 29 in San Francisco, and go on sale in the second half of that year.

The introduction is particularly timely given the rising urgency with which businesses must comply with new privacy requirements and tighten their own data security measures. In a recent interview with VentureBeat, Fortanix\’s vice president of secret computing, Richard Searle, called secret Data Search \”a practicable solution to real business problems\” that banks and other organisations confront today.

Confidential computing as a solution to the data protection problem

The technology behind Confidential Data Search comes from the burgeoning subject of confidential computing, which aims to carry out complicated operations on encrypted data without the need for decryption. Fortanix uses Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), which are isolated sections of memory where encrypted data may be decrypted and processed without being visible to other programmes. The identities of the analysts doing the searches are likewise concealed by encrypting the queries they use.
\”In essence, it\’s private computing with the help of a Trusted Execution Environment. To decrypt and serve queries securely, we install an image of an encrypted database inside the Trusted Execution Environment,\” Searle said to VentureBeat. To ensure the privacy of both the analyst and the data being queried, \”we also deploy the client-side SQL interface within a confidential computing environment.\”

According to Searle, clients of Fortanix Confidential Data Search are not required to make any changes to their current databases or datasets, nor are they required to convert their data to a new format. According to him, Fortanix\’s Data Security Manager may be used inside confidential computing without any adjustments to provide transparent data encryption for popular corporate databases like PostgreSQL and MySQL.

He went on to say that Fortanix has more than a hundred connectors for Data Security Manager, with companies like Snowflake and Databricks among them. He said that discussions are underway with a big cloud provider to incorporate the technology into their infrastructure.

The next step in AI safety

Searle elaborated on his predictions for the secure computing industry and the role Fortanix would play in its development. Confidential computing, he said, will soon be an integral element of all computer infrastructures, particularly in the context of new technological paradigms like AI and ML.

\”We\’re putting in a lot of time and effort on AI. We\’ve been maintaining this practise for some years now. We plan to make a few big announcements before the end of the year. Searle told VentureBeat that the first will include \”very fine-grained policy controls and support for large language models.\” We\’re also putting in a lot of time and effort towards edge AI deployment in preparation for the 6G market. We now regard edge computing as a particularly essential technique for confidential computing, in addition to its conventional role in the data centre.

The Everest Group predicts that the confidential computing industry would expand at a CAGR of 90-95%, reaching $54 billion by 2026. Data security and privacy are becoming more important, according to the report, particularly in highly regulated sectors including the public sector, the financial sector, the healthcare sector, the life sciences sector, and the defence sector.

When compared to competing encrypted data storage options, Fortanix says that their offering is superior in terms of speed and scalability. According to Searle, existing approaches either involve processing data in plain text and employing permission restrictions, which leave it exposed to data breaches, or depend on cryptographic techniques like homomorphic encryption, which are problematic for complicated datasets.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs) and GiantLeap Capital are among Fortanix\’s investors. Other investors include Foundation Capital, Intel Capital, Neotribe Ventures, and In-Q-Tel, for a total of about $135.5 million. The firm has attracted clients from a wide variety of sectors, including some with very stringent regulations.

The firm claims to be dedicated to growing the secure computing community and is a founding member of the Confidential Computing Consortium, an initiative of the Linux Foundation with the stated goal of increasing the uptake of secure computing technology.

Fortanix promises to provide a quick and scalable solution for businesses to search and analyse encrypted data in use while staying in line with international standards and regulations by using confidential computing technologies. This might set Fortanix apart from rivals like Microsoft, IBM, and Google, all of whom are working on their own secure cloud computing offerings. Fortanix\’s mission statement is, \”Make data security simple and accessible to everyone.\” Fortanix seems to be getting closer to that target with its new invention.

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