How Encryption Is Solving Cloud Computing’s Greatest Challenge

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Keeping our information safe in the cloud is a huge challenge for cybersecurity vendors. End-to-end encryption can do that in a way that still leaves the data usable.

By now, you already know that cloud computing is a really big deal.

More than a quarter of a trillion dollars will be spent on public cloud services in 2019, and they’ll account for a third of global businesses’ overall IT budgets. Researchers believe that nearly half of all corporate workloads ran on various cloud services in 2017. But that will increase to 55% in 2019, and 94% by 2021.

In other words, nearly all of our data will move to the cloud within the next two years.

That’s great news for the public cloud providers. In the quarterly earnings report Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) delivered Wednesday, it reported that Azure sales grew 63% in constant currency and said its Intelligent Cloud division now provides a third of overall revenue. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) similarly noted in its earnings call that its Web Services group grew 35% annually and now accounts for 28% of its top line.

In short, there’s big money being made in providing the cloud’s infrastructure.

The cybersecurity opportunity

Due to this mass migration of data to the cloud, there’s never been a greater need for innovative cybersecurity companies. But as the market evolves, endpoint security antivirus software from Norton and enterprise firewalls from Palo Alto Networks just won’t cut it anymore. Our cloud-housed data needs new tools to protect it from data breaches and hackers — and a new wave of companies is beginning to step up to address this need.

Zscaler (NASDAQ:ZS) is one of them. Based on the premise that network firewall hardware will soon become inadequate, Zscaler offers a cloud Secure Web Gateway entirely through its cloud-based security layer — no hardware required. This decentralizes the cybersecurity protection, allowing the data to flow back and forth from the public cloud rather than redirecting it to clients’ own physical data centers.

A similar and complementary approach is to disguise all of the data that’s flying through the cloud, so it would appear as gibberish to hackers who intercept it. End-to-end encryption is gaining traction as a way to encrypt sensitive data like financial accounts or medical health records.

But there’s an added bonus: The encrypted data can still be computed upon. One of the biggest advantages offered by the cloud is the application of machine-learning algorithms, which can make correlations between data points and draw important conclusions. Rather than leaving the sensitive and most-valuable information locked away in on-premise vaults, why not encrypt it so it can still be used for AI calculations in cloud-computing data centers?

This is exactly the approach being pursued by cybersecurity company PreVeil. Born out of research done at MIT, PreVeil’s end-to-end encryption could redefine cloud-based cybersecurity in a way that doesn’t interfere with workflows (i.e. you’ll never even notice it’s running) and still allow for machine-learning applications.

I recently spoke with PreVeil co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Raluca Popa. Raluca is developing PreVeil’s technology and recently won MIT’s prestigious Innovators Under 35 award, previous recipients of which include CRISPR inventor Feng Zhang and Tesla co-founder JB Straubel.

In our conversation, Raluca describes the current state of cybersecurity, explains why end-to-end encryption will be important, and lists a few things individual investors interested in the space should be watching. – Read more

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