What is Homomorphic Encryption?

homomorphic encryption
homomorphic encryption

A word we hear a lot these days is homomorphic encryption.

Several companies and cloud services are changing their current encryption algorithm to homomorphic encryption. Why ? Because it ensures better confidentiality and security of user data.

More what is homomorphic encryption? What does it mean ? And what makes it different from other encryption algorithms?

What is homomorphic encryption?

Le homomorphic encryption is a type of public key encryption here allows software to perform calculations directly on encrypted data without requiring access to unencrypted data.

The result of such a calculation also remains in encrypted form, and can subsequently be revealed by the owner of the secret key.
This advantage makes it possible to entrust calculations to an external entity, without the data or the results being accessible to this entity.

Remarks: Homomorphic encryption is by no means new. It dates back to 1978, which gave it plenty of time to gain efficiency, complexity and speed. But it has only been used and studied by established companies for the last ten years.

Applications that use homomorphic encryption

Thanks to its remarkable security and flexibility, homomorphic encryption is present in many important domains that deal with huge amounts of sensitive data requiring regular access.

It is also not limited to companies that work with sensitive data. He has now reached a level where it is used daily by average Internet users .

Password managers

The most notable recent example comes from Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Both browsers recently introduced homomorphic encryption in their password management tools.

More how to implement homomorphic encryption in their password managers ?

Do you know about Chrome's "password watch"?

If not, password monitoring is when your password manager continually tests your passwords against public lists of hacked or leaked passwords. This way it can alert you whenever it detects one of your passwords is hacked.

Previously, and with traditional encryption methods, your password manager had to decrypt your credentials to compare them to those huge lists, which in itself greatly reduces your privacy and puts your passwords at risk.

But with homomorphic encryption, you maintain complete privacy while your password manager runs your still encrypted passwords on those lists.

Web applications and SaaS providers

The Web applications and SaaS providers must collect and process large amounts of data which is, in most cases, confidential data.

The need for secure encryption is essential. The data must be secure, but also available to the service provider's cloud.

The use of homomorphic encryption instead of its alternatives can guarantee both confidentiality and the ability to process, calculate and modify the data without decrypting it. This is a win for both the service provider, as it increases its reliability, and for you, as your data becomes confidential and secure simultaneously.

Why not use homomorphic encryption everywhere?

If homomorphic encryption is so great, why aren't companies using it more in their services, especially those that hold sensitive data?

Compared to other types of encryption methods offering similar levels of security, homomorphic encryption is incredibly slow. This only allows it to be used in individual cases such as personal password managers and small SaaS applications.