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Secure multi-party computation: : jointly analysing sensitive data without sharing it

The analysis of data from different sources is becoming increasingly important. At the same time, relevant data is often too sensitive to be casually shared with others. How can organizations share information securely without revealing any underlying data of a sensitive nature? TNO is helping to resolve this problem by developing innovative and secure techniques based on Secure Multi-Party Computation.

In addition to creating added value, the process of combining different datasets leads to new insights, better decision-making, and more robust research (including market research), in addition to stronger products and services. At the same time, there is the issue of whether or not datasets can be readily combined. The new European privacy legislation (General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR) introduces new restrictions on which data can be shared, for what purpose, and in what way. Moreover, companies are keen to prevent commercially sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

What is mpc?

One innovative solution for generating the functionality of a shared database without having to reveal the data is Secure Multi-Party Computation (MPC). MPC is a ‘toolbox’ of cryptographic techniques that allows several different parties to jointly compute data, just as if they have a shared database. Cryptographic techniques are used to protect the data, so it can be shared in a way that prevents the parties involved from ever being able to view other people’s data. The participating parties determine who is allowed to view the outcome of the computation.

Advantages of MPC:

  • Being able to carry out joint computations, while keeping your own data secure
  • Retaining control over who receives the outcome of the computation
  • The guarantee that your computations have been performed correctly

Use in a range of sectors

For many years, theoretical research into the MPC technique, in particular, was restricted to the academic world. Its implementation in everyday practice lagged behind. We have noted that progress in this field has gained momentum in recent years, while the protocols are becoming ever faster – such that they can actually be used in practice. Accordingly, we feel it is up to us to take the next step, in the form of applications for everyday practice. Our partners include the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI; the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science). Together, we are working on tangible MPC applications for the financial, medical, and public sectors. MPC is suitable for all kinds of sectors – wherever data is available and the parties involved can add value by sharing their data.

Taking the next step together

MPC enables the most sensitive databases to be linked together in a secure manner, thus opening the door to all kinds of new products and services. TNO possesses the unique expertise needed to assist you with these techniques and to advise you on customized solutions.

If you’d like to cooperate with us and/or learn more about this technology, please get in touch.

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