MIT’s ‘Enigma’ Uses Bitcoin Blockchain to Create Privacy-Enhancing, Decentralized Computation Platform / Aaron van Wirdum / 2015-07-24 09:02 AM

The MIT Media Lab has unveiled that it is working on a Bitcoin-based encryption system that lets users securely share data over a decentralized computational network. The system, called Enigma, could offer drastically improved privacy features on the Internet.

Enigma, which is still in its prototype phase, is set to solve a classic problem in data security. Similar to a process known as “homomorphic encryption,” the system would allow data to be shared and used for computation while remaining undecipherable. Interestingly, this could potentially enable the recreation of all sorts of Internet services – be it search engines, data bases or web shops – without the need to share any personal information with these services.

The way Enigma works is that it cuts data in pieces, encrypts is, and randomly distributes it over the Enigma network in little chunks. None of the nodes on the network can read the data. But each node is able to process its own piece of information despite it being encrypted, and can send the results of these computations back to the original user. The user then decrypts and recombines all of the individual pieces to derive the final result.

Speaking to Wired, MIT Media Lab graduate researcher and one of Enigma’s creators, Guy Zyskind explained: