Intel is working with DARPA on advanced cloud encryption

They'll try to speed up compute times in the field of fully homomorphic encryption.

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Intel has signed up as a DARPA research partner on a project centered around fully homomorphic encryption, or FHE for short. The Data Protection in Virtual Environments (DPRIVE) program is looking into ways of advancing the FHE field to improve privacy.

In a nutshell, FHE enables encrypted data to be processed without first having to decrypt it. That's a major step forward for security, but right now, FHE isn't the most practical approach in most cases. According to DARPA, a calculation that takes a regular laptop a fraction of a second to carry out would currently take weeks to complete on a conventional server that's running FHE. Figuring out how to mitigate that "performance tax" is critical if FHE is ever to become widely adopted.

As part of a multi-year project, Intel will develop an Application Specific Integrated Circuit accelerator with the aim of speeding up FHE compute times. The company is also working with Microsoft to test the tech on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft JEDI.

IBM is also working on FHE. Last year, it released a toolkit to make it easier to harness the encryption method in iOS, macOS and Linux apps.