Privacy Enhanced Computation Technologies Advantages and Disadvantages
The acceleration of AI, machine learning, and large language model usage means more ways in which enterprises are able to get business value of their data – but are increasingly subject to privacy regulations across the world that ensure regulated data is protected. Data teams need the ability to perform operational and analytical computations on their data without exposing regulated data, which they can not do with simple “data at rest” encryption.
Privacy enhanced computation technologies are an option to protect data while also getting business value out of the data. This blog post describes various privacy enhanced computation computation technologies and how Baffle uniquely solves this problem.
Confidential computing / enclaves
Enclaves are a special area in a CPUthat is dedicated to confidential computations. It requires special hardware and/or significant storage space, leaving you little flexibility in designing your system and no ability to do distributed computing. There are additional costs in using this specific hardware, and there can be delays in procurement, installation, and deployment preventing your business from being agile in adaptation to business events. It also doesn’t support managed databases so you have additional costs to self manage. And last, your database administrator always has cleartext access to regulated data.
Application access controls
The next option is application access controls, which is when security and encryption rules are implemented in applications. While data is protected in one application, once the data moves to another system, access control is lost. Every time another application is added, or another step in a data pipeline, additional work is needed to protect the data. And in most cases, the database administrator or infrastructure administrator has cleartext access to the data. Effectively implementing application access controls means constantly monitoring where your data is and where it moves to ensure it is protected.
Another option is homomorphic encryption, a method of encryption that enables operations directly on encrypted data. We recently revisited one of our most popular blog posts where we discussed the biggest drawback is performance concerns. Homomorphic encryptions means either increased computational overhead or performance impacts every time the data is read. That is a non-starter today – people need good performance when trying to access data. It also requires significant storage space, which means additional costs and maintenance. Most importantly, it only addresses a subset of operations, depending on the specific homomorphic encryption, so you actually need a variety of protections to protect all of your data.
Baffle Advanced Encryption
Baffle’s Advanced Encryption has solved the last barriers to adopting encryption for analytics. It is a set of Postgres database extensions/plugins that support any and all operations occurring on encrypted data. Baffle provides data centric protection, protecting data wherever it flows. All queries to the database only show cleartext data to the users who have permission to access it so reports, spreadsheets, exported data sets, SQL queries, analytics applications, etc are compliant with privacy regulations.
It’s a pragmatic balance between security, speed of deployment, flexibility, and cost. Unlike application-level encryption or policy-based access, Baffle’s modular platform is easy to implement, ensuring no code changes to applications are required.
Baffle’s Advanced Encryption has solved the last barriers to adopting encryption for analytics. It provides data centric protection without the use of special hardware. It supports any and all operations on encrypted data while being highly performant. And its role based access control reduces the number of people in your organization with cleartext data access, ensuring you comply with any and all privacy regulations.
Advanced Encryption is the easiest and fastest way to analyze your regulated data while meeting compliance. To see a demo and discuss your data protection concerns, please schedule a meeting with Baffle.