Encryption has been around for thousands of years, used across the ages to send secret messages to one another. For example the Caesar cipher, which consists of simply swapping letters in the alphabet, is one of the earliest encryption techniques, dating back to 60BC!
With the advent of the internet, the amount of private data we generate has increased exponentially — and with it a massive rise in data breaches and mass surveillance. In response we’ve invented new encryption techniques, culminating in the mainstream adoption of end to end encryption in our everyday apps.
But how does end to end encryption actually work? And how will it change the way we use the internet?
Fully Homomorphic Encryption — or FHE for short — is a technology that enables processing data without decrypting it. This means companies can offer their services without ever seeing their users’ data — and users will never notice a difference in functionality.
With data encrypted both in transit and during processing, everything we do online could now be encrypted end to end, not just sending messages!
Let’s have a look at how FHE works by applying a filter to an encrypted image.
Upload one of your favorite pictures to see how you can apply a filter while keeping it encrypted.
By encrypting your picture with a secret password, you ensure the owner of the cloud service cannot see it while processing it.
Applying a filter on your encrypted picture will result in another encrypted picture. Random pixels in, random pixels out!
By decrypting the result using the same password that encrypted the original picture, you get the actual picture with the filters applied to it!
This is the power of homomorphic encryption! You just used an online service without revealing any of your personal data.
From your point of view, the service hasn’t changed: you sent a photo to the cloud and applied a filter to it. But from the cloud's point of view, everything was encrypted — no company, government or hacker could ever see your data!
When the internet first appeared, we accessed websites via an HTTP address. Nothing was encrypted, and anybody could listen to what you sent online. Then came HTTPS, which encrypts data in transit. We believe FHE will enable a new internet protocol, HTTPZ, where everything is encrypted end to end. Privacy wouldn't matter anymore, not because it isn't important, but because it would be guaranteed by design in the internet itself!
We are a team of cryptographers and engineers passionate about privacy. We build open source FHE technologies to help companies make their products encrypted end to end. Our hope is to one day see this HTTPZ vision come to life, so that we can put an end to mass surveillance and data breaches!