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IBM Introduces Fully Homomorphic Encryption for Apple macOS, iOS

IBM has released a fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) toolkit designed to help organizations protect data at rest, in transit and during computation, according to a prepared statement.

The first FHE toolkits support the Apple macOS and iOS operating systems; Linux and Google Android support is coming soon.

The concept of FHE originated in the late 1970s, and the technology was demonstrated at the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing in May 2009. Since that time, IBM has achieved over a 100x improvement in speed that allows FHE to be leveraged in everyday applications, the company stated.

How Does FHE Differ from Traditional Data Encryption?

Traditional encryption tools require organizations to encrypt data at rest and in transit, then decrypt it during computation. In doing so, data is exposed during computation, making it susceptible to cyberattacks.

Comparatively, IBM's FHE toolkit enables organizations to encrypt data without the need to decrypt it, the company stated. This ensures organizations can outsource data storage and computation without compromising data privacy or security.

IBM's FHE toolkit is built on the HELib encryption library, the company noted. It includes sample programs to help organizations write FHE-based code.

With the FHE toolkit, an organization can convert plaintext into ciphertext that is unreadable by humans until an algorithm is used to decrypt it, IBM indicated. Computations are then performed on the ciphertext without human intervention, and the results can only be decrypted by the data owner.

Is FHE Effective?

FHE may benefit organizations in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare, IBM stated. It can be used for various applications, such as:

  • Extracting value from private data
  • Secure data outsourcing
  • Querying data without revealing intent

IBM offers FHE toolkits for MacOS and iOS via GitHub, with FHE toolkits for Linux and Android expected to be available in the next few weeks.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.