A 6 minute
Encryption has been around for thousands of years, used across the ages to send secret messages to one another. For example the Caesar cipher, which consists of simply swapping letters in the alphabet, is one of the earliest encryption techniques, dating back to 60BC.
With the advent of the internet, the amount of private data we generate has increased exponentially — and with it a massive rise in data breaches and mass surveillance. In response we’ve invented new encryption techniques, culminating in the mainstream adoption of end-to-end encryption in our everyday apps.
But how does end-to-end encryption actually work? And how will it change the way we use the internet?
How your data is protected today
Data is still being stolen because it isn't encrypted during processing.
By the numbers
The percentage of breaches that involved data stored in the cloud.
The global average total cost of a data breach in the year 2023.
The average time it takes a company to identify a data breach.
Source: IBM Security - 2023 report
end-to-end encryption now more than ever.
Introduction to Homomorphic Encryption
Fully Homomorphic Encryption — or FHE for short — is a technology that enables processing data without decrypting it. This means companies can offer their services without ever seeing their users’ data — and users will never notice a difference in functionality.
With data encrypted both in transit and during processing, everything we do online could now be encrypted end-to-end, not just sending messages!
It's not dark magic.
Thanks to Homomorphic Encryption, you can now use your favorite online services without revealing any of your personal data.
From your point of view, the services don’t change: You can use it as you always have. But from the server point of view, everything is encrypted — no company, government or hacker can ever see your data.
How FHE will change the future
Imagine knowing in advance what you need to do to stay healthy throughout your life. This is increasingly possible with AI, but requires sharing all your health data — everything from your DNA to your medical history to your lifestyle habits. With FHE, you could send all this data while keeping it encrypted, and the AI would respond with encrypted health recommendations that you alone have the ability to see.
From science fiction to the palm of your hand, facial recognition is now a part of our everyday experience. We use facial recognition to enter buildings, unlock our phones, tag people in pictures and soon to login to websites everywhere. This however requires someone to have your biometric fingerprint, which in the wrong hands can be used to impersonate you. With FHE, you could authenticate yourself securely, without anybody being able to steal your biometric data.
Confidential Smart Contracts
By design, blockchains are public, meaning all the user data flowing into web3 applications are visible to the entire world. With FHE, we can enable private smart contracts, where the inputs and outputs are encrypted end to end, meaning you can safely build decentralized applications that use sensitive personal data - think on-chain identity, private NFT metadata or geolocated Dapps.
How FHE will change the internet
When the internet first appeared, we accessed websites via an HTTP address. Nothing was encrypted, and anybody could listen to what you sent online. Then came HTTPS, which encrypts data in transit. We believe FHE will enable a new internet protocol, HTTPZ, where everything is encrypted end to end. Privacy wouldn't matter anymore, not because it isn't important, but because it would be guaranteed by design in the internet itself.
Want to see FHE in action?
Encrypted photo filtering
Apply photo filters over an encrypted image without revealing the actual image to the server.
Encrypted sentiment analysis
Analyse a sentiment over encrypted data without revealing the text input to the model.
Private smart contracts
Create private smart contracts on top of public, permission less blockchains to control who sees the transaction data and contract states.
Encrypted Health Predictions
Get health prediction on encrypted data, without revealing your symptoms to the untrusted server.