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Secure Computation for Safe Data Utilization

Featured Technologies

November 5, 2018

Expectations for cross-organizational data utilization

In recent years, while businesses that use personal information at information banks and confidential information in the possession of enterprises between organizations are becoming more active, data utilization beyond corporate and organizational borders has not progressed in the light of privacy violations and other problems. Secure computation is expected to be one of the technologies that can solve this issue.

Secure computation

Secure computation is a technology where data is processed confidentially. This technique allows multiple parties to process their respective confidential information in a pre-defined way without disclosing it to other parties and output only that processing result. This method is also called multi-party computation.

Figure: Overview of secure computation

By using secure computation, secure data sharing across companies and organizations can progress and produce various social values. For example, in the field of medicine, a combined analysis of genome information possessed by the genome bank and the medical records possessed by medical institutions can promote medical research such as studies on effective medication according to genomic characterization. As another example, analyzing transaction information possessed by financial institutions can be useful in detecting fraudulent transactions and purchase history information from various shops can be utilized for marketing analysis.

Figure: Application example in medical field

NEC's high-speed secure computation

Secure computation has long been considered impractical due to the massive data transmission and processing necessary, as well as the complexity of computation that takes an enormous amount of processing time. However, research on increasing the speed of data processing has been progressing recently, and in 2016 NEC succeeded in the development of high-speed secure computation.
Secure computation can be achieved through different methods, for example, secret sharing and homomorphic encryption. At NEC, we focus on the research and development of secure computation using secret sharing. With this approach, confidential information is distributed across and held by three securely-managed servers and processed without ever being reconstructed into the original data.

How NEC's secure computing works

NEC's development support tool for secure computation

Conventionally, secure computation needed complex and massive programming, creating a barrier to proliferation and expansion due to the difficulty in system building for ordinary engineers. As a solution to this issue, NEC, in 2018, developed a support tool that facilitates the development of systems embedded with secure computation. With this tool, engineers can just write the secure computation processing in a programming language similar to Python to automatically generate processing codes specific to NEC's secure computation.
Because this tool also supports various statistical programming scripts for secure computation, not only can it automatically generate pre-defined, standard aggregate and analytical processing, but also easily code statistical and analytical processing for systems customized to the preferences of corporate and research institution users.

Figure: Sample script of programming language similar to Python
(Processing that calculates the mean)

By using this tool, any engineer with programming skills can write a data processing script to generate and execute the processing code necessary for secure computation. Taking a simple aggregate processing as an example, the development tool can automatically generate a processing code of around 40,000 lines from a program script of about 30 lines.

Figure: Effect of development tool for secure computation

This development tool also automatically finds, from the script, processing that can be executed in parallel. The optimization function that simultaneously executes the processes allows an engineer without specialized knowledge to generate a secure computation processing code that can execute the scripted processing at high speed.

NEC will provide this tool for review and demonstration of the applicability of secure computation, as well as work on testing and development of practical uses, with the aim of having practical application of secure computation ready in 2020.

Contact below for review and demonstration of applicability

NEC Central Research Laboratories, Research Planning Division

More on NEC's secure computation

Research Papers (International Conventions)

  • T. Araki, A. Barak, J. Furukawa, M. Keller, Y. Lindell, K. Ohara and H. Tsuchida. "Generalizing the SPDZ Compiler For Other Protocols". ACM CCS 2018.
  • Jun Furukawa, Yehuda Lindell, Ariel Nof, Or Weinstein, "High-Throughput Secure Three-Party Computation for Malicious Adversaries and an Honest Majority", EUROCRYPT 2017.
  • Toshinori Araki, Assi Barak, Jun Furukawa, Yehuda Lindell, Ariel Nof, Kazuma Ohara, Adi Watzman, Or Weinstein. "Optimized Honest-Majority MPC for Malicious Adversaries - Breaking the 1 Billion-Gate Per Second Barrier", IEEE S&P 2017.
  • Toshinori Araki, Jun Furukawa, Yehuda Lindell, Ariel Nof, Kazuma Ohara, "High-Throughput Semi-Honest Secure Three-Party Computation with an Honest Majority", ACM CCS 2016. (Best Paper Award)

Relevant Laboratories