Confidential Computing – The Final Frontier of Data Security

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Confidential Computing

With confidential workloads moving to the public cloud and edge devices, it is becoming increasingly important to secure data not only while it is in rest or transit but also while it is in use.

With the increasing reliance on data in the era of hybrid cloud, the need for data privacy has become critical for businesses worldwide. Organizations need to actively invest and innovate in areas that will prepare them for the future and help protect highly sensitive data.

Data is usually encrypted while at rest and in transit, but it is overlooked when it is being processed. But data threats never rest; hence the protection of data, too, shouldn’t. Cybercriminals are now turning their attention to targeting data in use with attacks against storage and network devices thwarted by data at rest and in transit security measures.

And with data moving to the cloud, traditional network and physical perimeter security cannot fully protect organizations from such attacks. This where confidential computing comes into play; it plugs the potentially crippling hole in data security.

A Growing Challenge

For most organizations, completing their digital transformation journey is dependent on being able to categorically ensure that absolutely no one can ever secretly access or manipulate the data and intellectual property they entrust to the cloud. Therefore, as the third pillar of data security, confidential computing will increasingly be a prerequisite for any cloud-deployed business application.

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But with data being stored and processed on mobile, IoT devices, and edge and then moved to the cloud, the enlarged attack surface is bound to test security for organizations. Furthermore, the organizations are legally bound to mitigate threats that target the integrity and confidentiality of data in their systems.

Multiple Paths to Confidentiality

The COVID-19 pandemic has not held back public cloud advancements and new service offerings in confidential computing. Confidential computing options now include Kubernetes confidential nodes, confidential machine learning interfaces, always encrypted SQL databases, and IoT edge computing.

One of the benefits of confidential computing is that it provides multiple layers of protection. Furthermore, organizations can also choose various paths to TEE (Trusted Execution Environment) enhanced security depending upon whether they want it employed quickly or want to custom-design their protection.

The Future of Confidential Computing

Confidential Computing is seen as a game-changer for the cloud computing industry, with its benefits going beyond the realms of security.

Companies keep huge amounts of sensitive data out of the public cloud due to regulation or to keep full control and thus miss out on the benefits the cloud brings to AI and big data analytics. Incomplete security could mean missing out on crucial business opportunities, especially when businesses may not be inclined to share proprietary data with other organizations.

But with confidential computing, companies can benefit from the reasoning that AI provides in large datasets without having to share the datasets with each other. IT security leaders believe confidential computing has the power to promote collaboration among competitors as it assures complete privacy and protection of sensitive data.

Read More: COVID-19 Becoming a Catalyst for Evolving Cybersecurity Leadership

Security leaders need to ensure that the physical infrastructure holding the data should be secure from prying eyes like the cloud and software stack providers. The term confidential compute may most likely become superfluous and an assumed native component of all cloud services within five years.  But for now, confidential computing capabilities and services will be a competitive differentiator for the large cloud providers.

Some organizations may wait until data-in-use security becomes universal to complete their digital transformation. But, with new demands being placed on data security constantly, confidential computing is sure to be a critical part of a cybersecurity plan for organizations worldwide.