Confidential Computing Eases Hesitancy Around Cloud Adoption


With major cloud providers buying into confidential computing, enterprises can migrate to the cloud with ease and start gaining true value from their data.

Gartner forecasts cloud spending to grow 20.7% in 2023, to total $591.8 billion. The time, risk, and cost associated with refactoring and migrating legacy workloads are often the top barriers to cloud adoption. Even with these risks, as data becomes more valuable, organizations have opted to invest in cloud technology to not only store their sensitive data but to enable cross-department and organization collaboration.

The healthcare and financial services industries have been particularly resistant to cloud migration, and rightfully so due to the highly sensitive nature of the data they handle. However, the emergence of confidential computing – projected to be a $54B market by 2026 by the Everest Group – presents a solution where banks, for example, could pool their data together to detect fraud and human trafficking more effectively without exposing that data to each other, third-party cloud providers, or the system on which it’s running. Enterprises need a guarantee that their data is protected. Data loss or leaks are not an option, especially in healthcare and financial services. By utilizing confidential computing, organizations get that security guarantee and ease concerns around cloud migration, understanding that their data is protected from end-to-end, even during computation. Before we dig into how confidential computing can ease hesitation around cloud adoption, let’s first look at what’s driving that hesitation. 

See also: Survey Finds Still Way Too Much Data Insecurity in the Cloud

Hesitation around the cloud

Traditional encryption methods – such as protecting partially homomorphic encryption (PHE) or fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) – use techniques that protect data-at-rest or data-in-motion to ensure security. But a major security problem occurs when the data needs to be actually used.

Traditional approaches to protecting data-in-use often rely on enforcing restrictive access controls. This entire approach, however, is susceptible to human error and policy misconfigurations that often go undetected. Even with privileged access technology in place, protection against credential leakage can not be maintained – leading to unauthorized actors

being able to access sensitive data.

These traditional methods of cloud data security have failed at providing a high level of security during the joint analytics process. This has left corporations incapable of reaping the full benefits of cloud computing and having to instead weigh the unbalanced costs between security and convenience, leading to hesitation in adopting the technology in the first place.

See also: Understanding Unified Security in a Cloud World

The key? Securing data in use

Enterprises need a solution that provides additional confidentiality guarantees while not forcing a trade-off between security and compliance.

Confidential Computing alleviates top enterprise concerns and ensures that sensitive data will remain secure not only in storage but in use. The use of secure enclaves enables data to be stored in Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), where the data remains highly secure, allowing the technology to aggregate data from multiple sources and perform collaborative analytics. Secure enclaves provide a more efficient and less susceptible solution to data privacy. The environment is inaccessible by other applications, users, or processes colocated on the system, leaving no room for the doubt homomorphic encryption provides.

Confidential computing technology provides a unique way to securely share data and analyze it between multiple parties – while maintaining complete confidentiality. If someone gains access to the secure enclaves or the overall operating system, the technology will block access, and the user will not be able to see any memories in the enclave or tamper with the code inside. This encryption process prevents any type of hacking and guarantees the highest level of security.

By adopting secure enclaves and utilizing the full power of confidential computing, the current security hesitations are eliminated. Confidential computing provides an environment that allows teams to know that their data is being protected in the most efficient way possible and grants a more collaborative ecosystem. All of the major cloud providers have already bought into the technology, and as confidential computing continues to explode, enterprises can migrate to the cloud with ease and start gaining true value from their data.

Jay Harel

About Jay Harel

Jay Harel is the VP of Product at Opaque Systems, a startup out of UC Berkeley, tackling the challenge of multiparty collaboration, analytics, and AI on encrypted data. Prior to joining Opaque, Jay was the Senior Director of Product Management at Illumio, where his team owned several critical elements of the company’s product offering. Before that, he was Vice President of Product Management at Kollective Technology, where he was responsible for the entire line of products. Jay holds a B.S. in electrical engineering, an M.S. in computer science, and an MBA.

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