As for what kind of data we may be talking about exactly, Iyengar said it could be the healthcare data that a hospital might want to work with or national security data that governments want to share with one another. The key, he said, is not what type of data, it is enabling new modes of hearing. “Intel’s advantage is we can enable scale,” Iyengar said. “We have ever faster processors with Moore’s Law.”
The hardware that exists today is Intel TXT Trusted Execution Technology. TXT allows a server to boot up under a known environment. It measures the boot at every stage. The hardware measures the BIOS, the BIOs then measures the OS. The technology allows you to build up a chain of trust rooted in hardware. Using TXT makes sure that there is no malware in there, according to Iyengar.
The way you and I will know that the software on the machine will not be tampered with is ATA software. It will send the data to the server in computationally intensive cryptography and encrypt the data so that no one in the middle is decrypting it. “It provides a high degree of assurance that the environment is trustworthy, the computation is trustworthy, and the results are trustworthy,” Iyengar said.
Iyengar said it is a safe environment that makes sure that the software does not leak. The “trust broker,” the safe environment which Reliance Point technology provides and the algorithm itself is trustworthy because the software is known, it has been seen, and it can therefore be trusted. “The environment is sandboxed and the software is trustworthy.” Iyengar said. “The combination of the two greatly reduces the chances of leaks.”
This technology is still in its research phase. “We came up with a problem statement,” Deshpande said. “We are doing some internal proof points. We are open to working externally with companies to develop proof points, but specific projects depend on some of the segments.”
Deshpande specifically mentioned the financial segment and noted that Intel built its framework and its technology as a research platform.
We definitely want to work with ecosystem players in certain segments -- healthcare comes to mind, university researchers and university medical centers also come to mind. Anyone dealing with big data silos including financial institutions such as banks comes to mind. We are not going after any company, this is still a research technology, but we do welcome any collaboration with the marketplace.
Intel has a functional prototype, which it is currently testing out. Once it is validated, the company will look to take the next step. Deshpande said Intel wants to prove it out in terms of proof points that lead back into the research.
Intel sees itself as being in a good position to provide this technology due to its strength in both hardware and software -- as opposed to just having a presence in one or the other. The technology will be internally tested with mock data sets until Intel is convinced that it works. Then it will collaborate with companies to test it in the real world, and if that makes sense Intel will then try the actual integration. The company is seeking incremental steps of increasing maturity before introducing Reliance Point to the marketplace.
Though its early still, and though Intel is taking one step at a time, it is preparing to take a major leap forward in terms of providing secure data-sharing.