MIT Researchers to Launch Beta of Encrypted Data Platform Enigma

News and Analysis

A group of researchers and entrepreneurs from MIT Media Lab announced beta version of their encrypted daya platform Enigma will soon be released.

The system has been in development since July 2015. It employs blockchain technology to maintait safe and secure sharing of sensitive data with third parties.

The platform itself is named after famous encryption machine Enigma used by Germany during the World War II. The code of the original Enigma, however, was eventually cracked by several British mathematicians, including Alan Turing.

The new Enigma was invented by Oz Nathan, previously associated with counter-terrorist services of Israel, and MIT graduate Guy Zuskind, whose fields of interest relate mostly to cryptocurrency and data protection. Mentor of the latter, professor Alex Pentland, also joined the group of developers.

“Enigma is a decentralized cloud platform with guaranteed privacy. Private data is stored, shared and analyzed without ever being fully revealed to any party. Secure multi-party computation, empowered by the blockchain, is the magical technology behind it,” Enigma website reads.

However, Enigma will not be limited by protecting sensitive data only. Among its features, there is an option of analyzing system-stored data with external applications, while maintaining full-scale privacy.

Moreover, data owners could even monetize their proprietary data. One of the known examples of such monetization covers anonymous selling of partial and controlled access to individual medical records. Various pharmaceutical companies could be interested in purchasing such data, so that they could process them for the purposes of their own researches.

“Enigma’s computational model is based on a highly optimized version of secure multi-party computation, guaranteed by a verifiable secret-sharing scheme. For storage, Enigma uses a modified distributed hashtable for holding secret-shared data,” the project’s whitepaper reads.

“The most interesting use case we’re hearing from potential users is the ability to do data science and machine learning on encrypted data sets. Other use cases include private smart contracts and ‘IoT with privacy’,” Zyskind said according to Bitcoin Magazine.

Back in 2014, Enigma developers won the final round of the MIT Bitcoin Project’s Summer Startup Competition.

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