DARPA invests $4.9M towards secure cloud computing

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded $4.9M to Galois, Inc., as research integrator for the PROCEED program (Programming Computation on Encrypted Data) whose goal is to make it feasible to execute programs on encrypted data without having to decrypt the data first.

“If we are successful with PROCEED, it fundamentally changes the calculus for computations in untrusted environments… on computer systems of unknown provenance. The potential implications for the cybersecurity of cloud computing architectures are profound” states DARPA Director Regina Dugan.

Kaigham “Ken” Gabriel, Deputy Director of DARPA said: “If we were able to do relevant sorts of operations without ever having to decrypt, that would be a tremendous gain because… whenever you decrypt into the open, you create vulnerability.”

DARPA Program Manager Dr. Drew Dean has assembled a diverse group of researchers on PROCEED with the challenging goal of making fundamental progress in the science and mathematics of computing on encrypted data, while at the same time increasing the efficiency of implementations of the new techniques by several orders of magnitude.

The researchers are working at many different levels of abstraction: on the design of programming languages that support encrypted data; on building efficient libraries of operations over encrypted data structures; on compilation techniques that exploit programmable hardware; and on fundamental breakthroughs in the cryptographic approach itself.

Over the next four years, Galois will draw the many threads of research together into a coherent whole. Galois brings existing infrastructure and technological support for multi-use cryptography compilation and analysis, and a decade of experience supporting and connecting cryptographers in research, government, and industry.

To meet the critical technical challenge of a shared technical infrastructure, Galois offers the Cryptol tool suite, leveraging the existing framework for specifying, designing, implementing, and verifying cryptographic algorithms for a variety of hardware and software platforms. The toolset will be extended to showcase the breakthroughs in homomorphic encryption produced across the PROCEED research team.

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