Guy Zyskind and Oz Nathan, two Bitcoin entrepreneurs, have worked together with MIT’s Media Lab to come up with a prototype for Enigma. Enigma is a system that ensures complete privacy when data is shared on cloud-hosted services that is based on Bitcon’s cryptography.
There’s been a lot of interest from large venture capital investors in the Bitcoin technology, especially in the last few months. The interest is mainly due to the digital’s currency cryptography that allows for a decentralized currency that is not counterfeited.
The technology brought in a record number of investments during the spring with $116 million in funding. Still, the key point has been the blockchain and cryptography technology, which has many benefits besides helping Bitcoin. The more recent is the amalgamation of code and math so that anybody can share data on the cloud and still keep it private.
The design of the Enigma system is to provide “homomorphic” encryption, which allows data to be shared with third parties and used in calculations without it needing to be decrypted. This trick ensures that untrusted computers can run calculations on the sensitive information ensuring it’s not at risk of being hacked.
This is especially important as more people share secrets via cloud services that range from Facebook, Amazon, Google and Dropbox. The Enigma creators said with bitcoin’s tricks at their disposal, they can more effectively pull off homomorphically encrypted calculations.
How does it work? It’s work by imitating several of aspects of the currency’s decentralized network architecture. It encrypts the information by dividing it up into indecipherable pieces and allocating it – at random – to hundreds of Enigma network computers called nodes. Each node must do calculations on the data before the user can get an unencrypted answer.
Enigma, in an effort to know who has what data and where the information has been sent, stores the metadata in blockchain, which is an unbreakable record of messages that duplicated to thousands of computers to stop fraud and counterfeit in the bitcoin industry.
Zyskind said the information can be divided up and distributed to 10 people, and if asked, they’ll only have one piece of that information. The only way to decrypt the information to bring enough pieces together.
If Enigma’s encryption works as intended, it could have long-lasting implications. Private databases could host in the cloud without showing their contents. It could let search engines give search results without ever seeing the unencrypted search request. According to its creators, it could let Internet users to safely share all kinds of information with drug companies and advertisers without any risk to their privacy. It would allow the companies to run calculations on the data and attain useful results without seeing any of the users’ information.
Enigma’s co-creator Nathan said nobody wants to provide their data to companies when they don’t know what they’ll do with the information. With guaranteed privacy, he said, people would be willing to share more and that would mean more powerful data analysis.
The rise in innovative uses of blockchain is noteworthy, as was earlier cited by Coinbuzz when the band 22Hertz copyrighted their music using blockchain.