Modern businesses have to handle customer data in some way. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that the only businesses that survive the future are those that embrace technology. Technologies such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence have undeniable benefits, but they also pose complex problems.
Managing customer or site visitor data is a lot like having intimate access to their home. When companies fail to prioritize data privacy and security in the early stages of building their business, they can be haunted again at the most inconvenient moments. Therefore, privacy-enhancing technologies (PET) are gaining in importance.
This guide explains what privacy-enhancing technologies are and how your company can benefit from using them.
What are privacy-enhancing technologies?
Privacy-enhancing technology, or PET, is designed to prevent data leakage while balancing privacy and usability. Some of his PET prevent malicious persons from identifying the owners of collected data. In the event of a breach, the data becomes virtually useless to cybercriminals.
Other PETs avoid costly data breaches with cryptographic protection during data processing. PET may also come in the form of a remote audit service that monitors and ensures that data is only processed for appropriate purposes. This minimizes the chances of data leakage or compromise.
Your company may have all the data it needs and know everything there is to know about it, but building an online and software-based service that is private by design is difficult.PET helps launch privacy protection services that prevent disastrous data breaches.
Types of privacy-enhancing technologies
In fact, the term “privacy-enhancing technology” is a bit vague. This refers to all technologies that represent the basic elements of data protection. So any tool that minimizes the use of personal data while maximizing data security falls under this umbrella. The types of PET are as follows.
Traffic analysis is one of the biggest threats to data security and privacy. You must prevent malicious individuals from monitoring your online footprint and communications. You can prevent this intrusion by using a reputable VPN provider to encrypt your communications while connected to public networks. This is one of the simplest and most effective strategies you can use to keep your online footprints hidden. A good VPN hides your browsing history, personal data, login information, and IP address, making it much more difficult to track you online.
Pseudonymization and obfuscation are other forms of data masking. This is where sensitive data is distorted, masked, or replaced with fake data. Companies can even utilize machine learning algorithms to create synthetic data.
Businesses can also protect their customers by minimizing the amount of personal data they collect. This is known as data minimization.
Encryption tools are the oldest form of PET. For example, we have seen how unique derivative cryptos per field are effective for securing crypto assets via crypto wallets.
Homomorphic encryption is a good example of modern cryptographic techniques used for data privacy. This process involves encoding the data so that you can perform operations on the data without decrypting it. This is similar to opening a zip folder and making changes to the files inside.
There are two main types of homomorphic encryption (some sources cite three).
- Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE)
- Partial Homomorphic Encryption (PHE)
Secure Multi-Party Computation (SMPC) is another form of encryption used in PET. In this method, some chunks of data are encrypted by multiple parties, similar to how P2P swarm systems work.
Differential privacy in data encryption is functionally similar to obfuscation. Data are obscured by a layer of statistical noise. This method is often used in statistics because it can hide data about individuals while revealing data that can identify group-related patterns.
Finally, zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) work similarly to homomorphic encryption and can be used without exposing the data. ZKP allows you to verify (or use for verification) data without decryption.
How to choose a pet?
There are many impressive privacy-enhancing tools on the market. However, it is important to identify how it fits into your software stack and IT infrastructure. Therefore, you should be aware of the data privacy needs specific to your service and business. you should:
- Identify the amount and type of data your business handles. Is it mostly structured or unstructured?
- Identify third-party services with which data is shared (if any). Homomorphic encryption is the best option when data is passed between third parties.
- Distinguish the parts of the data you need. For example, do you want full access to the dataset or just the results/output? Can you deny sensitive personally identifiable data (personally identifiable information)?
- Identify data usage. Is it used for statistics, market data, training machine learning models, and other similar uses?
- Evaluate your IT infrastructure, network and computing power. This will help determine if a particular his PET is compatible with corporate resources. Additionally, you can use this information to determine which parts of your IT infrastructure need to be upgraded.
- PET can be expensive, so plan your budget accordingly.
There are many different types of PET, each designed to solve a specific business problem. Some are better for aggregate analysis, others are better suited for precise results. Similarly, some are best suited for extracting insights from sensitive data, while others are best suited for data exploration.
Organizations across industries are collecting and analyzing data for all modalities at unprecedented speed. Therefore, data must be collected securely while being reliably analyzed. This is essential for the public image and financial future of the business. PET should work as a small part of a larger Zero Trust solution. When thinking about cybersecurity and data privacy, it’s important not to be short-sighted.
About the author: Gary Stevens is an IT specialist and part-time Ethereum developer working on both QTUM and Loopring open source projects.He is also a part-time blogger privacy australiaLearn about online safety and privacy.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are those of the contributor only and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.