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Intel to partner with Microsoft on DARPA Program

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Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) has signed an agreement with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to perform in its Data Protection in Virtual Environments (DPRIVE) program.

The program aims to develop an accelerator for fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). Microsoft is the key cloud ecosystem and homomorphic encryption partner leading the commercial adoption of the technology once developed by testing it in its cloud offerings.

This includes Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft JEDI cloud, with the U.S. government.

“Fully homomorphic encryption remains the holy grail in the quest to keep data secure while in use,” said Rosario Cammarota, principal engineer, Intel Labs, and principal investigator, DARPA DPRIVE program.  

“Despite strong advances in trusted execution environments and other confidential computing technologies to protect data while at rest and in transit, data is unencrypted during computation, opening the possibility of potential attacks at this stage.

“This frequently inhibits our ability to fully share and extract the maximum value out of data. We are pleased to be chosen as a technology partner by DARPA and look forward to working with them as well as Microsoft to advance this next chapter in confidential computing and unlock the promise of fully homomorphic encryption for all.”

The company said that fully homomorphic encryption enables users to compute on always-encrypted data or cryptograms. The data never needs to be decrypted, reducing the potential for cyberthreats, Intel revealed.

FHE, when implemented at scale, would enable organisations to use techniques, such as machine learning, to extract full value from large datasets while protecting data confidentiality across the data’s life cycle.

Intel customers across industries such as healthcare, insurance and finance are set to benefit from new usages made possible by being able to use and extract value from sensitive data to its fullest extent without risk of exposure.

Under the DARPA DPRIVE program, Intel plans to design an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) accelerator to reduce the performance overhead currently associated with fully homomorphic encryption.

With its knowledge in cloud infrastructure, software stacks and fully homomorphic encryption, Microsoft will be a critical partner in accelerating the commercialization of this technology.

“We are pleased to bring our expertise in cloud computing and homomorphic encryption to the DARPA DPRIVE program, collaborating with Intel to advance this transformative technology when ready into commercial usages that will help our customers close the last-mile gap in data confidentiality — keeping data fully secure and private, whether in storage, transit or use,” said William Chappell, chief technology officer, Azure Global, and vice president, Mission Systems, Microsoft.

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