Microsoft helps healthcare with homomorphic seals

I-took-this-cute-picture-of-two-young-sealsThe healthcare industry has been blighted by poor security for a while which has placed patent records at risk.

One of the problem has been that while files can be encrypted if they have to be unencrypted when they are used. This left a large security hole.

Now Microsoft has come up with a free tool to help with biomedical data processing and encryption

In a recent paper released on its research portal, Microsoft has announced a new encryption algorithm that implements the theory of homomorphic encryption.

Homomorphic encryption is a method of encryption that encodes data in such a way that it allows developers to work with the encrypted data in the same way they would if it was in unencrypted form. Operations ran on homomorphic encrypted data yield the same results as when ran on the data’s cleartext version.

Vole’s new algorithm, named Simple Encrypted Arithmetic Library (SEAL) is modelled after homomorphic encryption principles, and allows developers to carry out addition and multiplication operations on the encrypted data.

For now, Microsoft’s  SEAL can only handle genomic data used in bioinformatics.

Using SEAL in real-world scenarios would allow hospitals and research to host encrypted data in the cloud, and avoid investing in their own data storage systems, while also being able to work with the data in the encrypted format, without wasting time decrypting it and re-encrypting it afterward.

The new SEAL algorithm will be provided as a downloadable tool, which will be open sourced in the upcoming months.

We are not sure if Microsoft can get American hospitals to use the free tool as many will fear getting local church goers upset. This is particularly in the bible belt where they will claim that Homomorphic seals are an abomination and that Christian hospitals should be using heteromorphic seals  like the bible commands.