Data privacy has been a priority for the market, and the right talent will ensure the innovations needed
While people have heard of the cloud, 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning, an area that is a little less well-known in the public eye is about to become a big topic for businesses and governments alike.
It is called “confidential computing” and has a lot to do with the security of data in your computers, smartphones and favourite cloud providers like Google Drive and Amazon Web Services.
But what exactly is confidential computing, and why is it important to society?
What is confidential computing?
In computing, the concept of the data security triad describes data in three states:
In transit/motion, as it moves through networks.
At rest, when it is in storage.
In use, when it is in the computer’s memory (RAM), being processed or computed.
Computer security solutions for data in transit and at rest are more mature compared to data in use, and that is why malicious actors are increasingly targeting this data for exploitation.
In the past few years, vulnerabilities in computer processors compromised data security in computers, mobile devices and even cloud servers. Two of the more widely publicised vulnerabilities were called Meltdown and Spectre.
These considerations matter to companies because data is increasingly being processed in remote locations, far away from our smart devices. Regulations like the GDPR imbue data custodians with the responsibility to secure data or risk steep financial fines.
That is where confidentiality steps in
This new technology protects data in use through what’s known as hardware-based Trusted Execution Environments (TEE), an isolated, heavily encrypted environment for data to be safely computed. Only authorised programming code can decrypt and process the data in TEEs — not your operating system, nor anything else.
While TEEs are already in modern devices, they are constantly being improved in anticipation of the proliferation of 5G-enabled IoT devices.
How does confidential computing affect major industries?
A common thread linking all the major industries affected by confidential computing is the processing of large volumes of sensitive data. This includes intellectual property at multiple locations: on-premise, in cloud environments or at the network edge.
These include the financial services, healthcare, biotechnology, mobility and defence industries, to name a few.
As these industries digitally transform, data proliferation will continue to increase. Companies in these industries will be keen to use the mountain of data responsibly to derive more value, make smarter decisions and innovate better products and services — without prying into, altering or corrupting data held by third parties.
Source: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock
Take the financial services industry, for example. Banks and retailers gather and store information about consumer behaviour and transaction trends in their systems. Confidential computing enables banks to pull data from disparate sources, like multiple third-party retailer databases, merge it with their data and compute it in a highly secure environment to deliver more personalised banking services.
Also, when law enforcement wants to detect financial fraud, terrorism financing or money laundering, they can deploy federated learning — a machine learning technique — to process and compute confidential and private data sets from diverse sources to detect crimes.
Private and public sector actors can achieve this while ensuring end-to-end data integrity, safeguarding consumer privacy and mitigating cybersecurity concerns.
Organisations have only begun to scratch the surface of the potential of data with confidential computing. In response, vendors are increasing the scope and depth of confidential computing capabilities to win in the era of data proliferation.
Standout companies in the confidential computing space
Based in Palo Alto, California, Anjuna Security’s primary offering seeks to simplify security for public cloud computation. Israel’s Ministry of Defense recently selected the company to secure its venture into the public cloud.
Next is Mountain View-based Fortanix, which claims to be “trusted by more than 100 organisations across a variety of applications and industry segments including healthcare, fintech, financial services, government and retail”. Their two product verticals are confidential computing and an open-source development platform to write Intel security code called SGX. They number several Fortune 500s among their customer base, including Google, Equinix, GE Healthcare and PayPal.
Another standout vendor is Swiss-based Decentriq, which aims to turn sensitive data into a competitive advantage. Their primary solution is a SaaS platform that provides on-demand data clean rooms based on confidential computing to access on-premise or public cloud data. They serve six key industries: banking, insurance, life sciences and healthcare, retail, and CPG. Their customers include The Swiss Federal Office for Defence Procurement, Swisscom, PostFinance and Credit Suisse.
Source: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock
The confidential computing landscape is thriving. Companies need to secure a healthy talent pipeline to gain a competitive edge in this space and build innovative solutions.
The right talent partner can help organisations navigate the challenges of securing talent when software engineers are in high demand. Companies like Amazon are increasing pay rates to lure engineering talent away from the competition.
How Airswift helped a confidential computing vendor grow its team
A confidential computing vendor engaged Airswift to help the founding team build their talent pipeline. They wanted to grow their engineering, backend, full-stack, core platform and infrastructure teams.
The founding team was well capitalised and had the resources for growth. Now, they needed to expand headcount to support the development of their analytics, machine learning and federated learning solutions.
We took on the challenge from the vendor and immediately went to our networks to source high-quality talents with secure on-cloud and open on-cloud experience and stacks that included Python, C++ and more.
The vendor needed to secure this headcount within 60 days. We managed to do it in just 30 days, enabling the vendor to accelerate the development of new solutions in their pipeline.
Are you looking to build your tech talent pipeline?
Keen to know more about how we can help you grow your team? Get in touch today to accelerate how you can capitalise on confidential computing.
This post was written by: Marc Jitab, Guest Author. For over a decade, Marc Jitab has produced content on technology, sustainability and digital transformation. More information about his work can be found at https://www.marcjitab.com