What is Confidential Computing?
Confidential Computing – A new milestone in Cyber and Data Security
Confidential computing is a new security approach to encrypt workloads while being processed, it limits access and ensures a 360° data protection and uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEEs) to safeguard the confidentiality of your data and code.
Confidential computing helps in performing the data encryption in memory without exposing the cloud data to the whole system.
As of now, there are multiple approaches to protect the data when it’s in rest and transit state—protecting the sensitive data while in use is confidential computing. Its job is to provide a protective layer against at-risk OS, hostile insiders & network.
On Aug 21, 2019, major tech companies like Intel, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Red Hat announced the launch of Confidential Computing Consortium (CCC) established under the Linux Foundation.
The challenge that led to the birth of confidential computing was to minimize the data exposure to the intended cloud system only while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.
Confidential computing aims to set a security standard to protect the data-in-use. It furthermore works on providing better user authority and transparency that is especially fitting to public clouds.
How Does Confidential Computing Work?
When it comes to data security, we have been only concerned with the “at rest” (storage) and “in transit” (network) state till now.
But that sensitive data also needs to be protected in its “processing” stage. TEE (Trusted Execution Environments) provides guaranteed security area for code and data, and other facilities necessary to support applications regardless of the rest of the system.
TEE is the isolated execution environment, or in other words, a secure area of the central processor. TEEs or encryption mechanism implementations remove any outside unauthorized access or voids.
So, with the help of TEE, confidential computing isolates the software and data from the underlying hardware and the whole operating system encrypted at the hardware level.
The CCC is working on creating better guidelines, systems, and a clear path to tools so as to ensure the data is encrypted when it’s being used by applications, devices, and online services.
What are the Benefits of Confidential Computing?
- Confidential computing enables end-to-end security encryption.
- Protects your data while in the state of being processed.
- Cloud customers have higher authority over their data and their processing on all points.
- Increases transparency and builds user trust.
- Ensures protection against any unauthentic use by insiders, keeps network vulnerabilities in check and other threats to hardware- or software-based technology.
- Confidential computing makes it easier to move between different environments without exposing any sensitive data.
Also Read: What are the Advantages of Soft Computing?
Confidential Computing Consortium
A Brief on The Data Security Coalition
Announced by the Linux Foundation, the Confidential Computing Consortium community was formed to define and accelerate the adoption of confidential computing across various industries. The allies include –
- Google Cloud
- Red Hat
Some highlighted contributions till now are –
- Red Hat Enarx – Uses TEEs to secure private serverless applications and to provide hardware independence.
- Open Enclave SDK – A contribution by Microsoft, Open Enclave SDK allows us to write and execute codes in TEEs.
- Intel SGX – Intel’s Software Guard Extension helps protect the select code and data at the hardware layer from disclosure or modification.
- Fortanix – Through its Runtime Encryption® Platform, Fortanix has assembled the most extensive user-based confidential computing community that now comprehends the majority of the confidential computing deployments.
These companies have come together to secure the data at every stage completely.
Be it the public cloud, on-premises servers, or the edge; the CCC is working on making it easier for the users to run and move quickly between various environments. This initiative is also working on –
- Supporting confidential computing by hosting technical open-source projects and open specifications.
- Bringing hardware vendors, cloud providers, and developers together to grow its market value.
- Setting up the regulatory standards.
- Building open-source tools environment for TEE development by building proper open source tools.
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