Confidential Computing Use Cases: Protecting Sensitive Data in a Range of Industries

Published on
Apr 5, 2023
Confidential Computing is becoming the buzz in cloud security, and for good reason. It provides organizations and individuals with the ability to scale and run their workloads almost anywhere while keeping their data secure.
https://www.anjuna.io/blog/confidential-computing-use-cases-protecting-sensitive-data-in-a-range-of-industries

Confidential Computing is becoming the buzz in cloud security, and for good reason. It provides organizations and individuals with the ability to scale and run their workloads almost anywhere while keeping their data secure. Confidential Computing ensures that sensitive data is protected by performing computation inside isolated and attested Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), also known as "secure enclaves." This article will explore some use cases for Confidential Computing and explain how it can benefit a range of industries.

Unblocking Cloud Transformations

Although cloud computing has been the driving force behind digital transformation, many enterprises are still hesitant to adopt it due to security, privacy, and compliance concerns, especially in regulated sectors. For instance, only 15% of banks' workloads have moved to the cloud, with many still relying on legacy systems and mainframes to process sensitive workloads. This results in slower innovation, lack of agility, and high costs. To address these challenges, Anjuna offers a multi-cloud software platform that helps you create high-trust Confidential Computing environments, ensuring data encryption and protection during processing while also verifying the authenticity of the code. Thanks to Anjuna, you can deploy your applications in these secure environments quickly without having to re-architect or refactor them, and across clouds using a consistent operational model. Being able to achieve this level of security and privacy for applications and data can make all the difference when it comes to confidently making the decision to move sensitive workloads to the public cloud, because it guarantees that you will remain in control of your data at all times, regardless of any infrastructure access privileges by outsiders or insiders.

Unblocking Cloud Transformations

Securing the Keys to the Kingdom

The news is often filled with reports of malware and hackers gaining unauthorized access to machines and systems they should not have access to. While these breaches can occur due to phishing or social engineering, a growing trend involves unauthorized access attacks that extract keys from memory. This is accomplished when a person or malware with escalated privileges captures the memory of a running process, allowing them to obtain plaintext passwords, keys, and personally identifiable information (PII). To prevent these attacks, Confidential Computing is critical.

Confidential Computing is essential for protecting valuable secrets like keys, passwords, and tokens from unauthorized access attacks. Key management systems (KMS) are widely used to create, manage, rotate, and distribute keys that enable individuals and machines to access other systems. However, they are susceptible to in-memory attacks if they are not running in a secure enclave that uses Confidential Computing. Even small businesses and individuals can benefit from Confidential Computing to protect their secrets. One way to achieve this is by using a common open-source password manager like Bitwarden and running it on AWS Nitro Enclaves with the Anjuna Confidential Computing Platform. In addition to securing the source of keys, it is crucial to secure the applications and systems that request keys. These systems must present initial keys to the KMS to obtain additional keys. All of these keys are stored in cleartext in memory and are vulnerable to exfiltration.

Protecting Financial Data

Confidential Computing is often utilized to protect financial data, particularly customer financial data, as preventing sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands is paramount. For example, Anjuna partners with crypto custodians to secure digital assets for fintech firms and institutional investors, utilizing Confidential Computing to safeguard keys, key-shard assembly processes, and multi-party key operations. Since crypto custodians must accommodate institutional investors who may require their services to be run on different cloud infrastructures with various chipsets, meeting their needs securely and quickly is essential.

Anjuna provides all the necessary tools for crypto custody firms to rapidly implement Confidential Computing and capitalize on market opportunities, allowing them to establish secure, reliable, and robust Web3 networks while Anjuna manages the heavy lifting. Several top digital asset custody firms have already benefited from Anjuna technology, including increased market traction, growth, and valuation.

This same approach can also assist traditional financial services organizations by providing secure enclaves that isolate and encrypt customer transaction data and sensitive account information, protecting it from malicious insiders and malware.

Safeguarding Intellectual Property and AI/ML Models

In the current technological landscape, organizations face a significant risk of their proprietary information being exposed to competitors, especially with the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics. While encryption and strong multi-factor authentication mechanisms protect code repositories and CI/CD pipelines, algorithms and source code can still be vulnerable to in-memory attack vectors.

Anjuna offers organizations the ability to utilize Confidential Computing to safeguard their data science notebooks, analytics workflows, and compute layers for their most valuable intellectual property while it's in use. Additionally, Confidential Computing provides the capability to run entire code repositories and CI/CD systems in secure enclaves, offering further protection against potential attacks.

Collaborating with Privacy

Collaborating with external parties while ensuring data privacy and confidentiality can be a major challenge for organizations. However, multi-party computing (MPC) with Confidential Computing provides a viable solution. MPC enables organizations to share data while preserving privacy, ensuring that each organization's data remains protected. This way, organizations can leverage data sharing benefits and collaborate to solve problems collectively.

The financial services industry can benefit significantly from multi-party computing. For instance, financial institutions can use MPC to securely combine and analyze joint data to identify and prevent fraudulent transactions, money laundering, market manipulations, or insider trading. Similarly, the insurance industry can leverage MPC to detect and prevent fraudulent claims. By pooling data to identify patterns of fraud, insurers can prevent financial losses and ensure that legitimate claims are paid in a timely manner.

MPC can also assist marketers in preparing for a cookieless future. Cookies have been used for years by advertisers to track website visitors, enhance user experience, and collect data to help target ads to the right audiences. However, data protection regulations such as GDPR have emphasized protecting consumer data and privacy, making it essential for marketers to find new solutions. Additionally, major tech companies like Google and Apple plan to phase out the use of third-party cookies, which many organizations rely on for their digital advertising strategies. This change creates a challenge for advertisers to market products to potential customers while maintaining privacy. Confidential Computing provides a solution for protecting consumer identifiable information while still enabling marketers to deliver relevant recommendations and advertisements. Marketers can collect more first-party data, such as data collected on their own website, and combine it with data from partners in a data clean room secured by Confidential Computing. By doing so, they can deliver personalized, targeted offers while safeguarding consumers' privacy.

Conclusion

Safeguarding sensitive data is crucial in today's digital landscape, and Confidential Computing is the key to achieving complete data security. With data-at-rest and data-in-transit protection already in place, Confidential Computing completes the trifecta by securing data while it's being processed. Despite the fact that the Confidential Computing industry is still evolving, it offers a range of benefits to various industries. By adopting this game-changing technology, financial institutions, software providers, blockchain developers and other organizations can protect their sensitive data effectively. Businesses can ensure data privacy and confidentiality, regardless of the cloud or geography in which their applications are running.

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