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Fortanix, a Mountain View, California-based cybersecurity company, announced today the release of its newest feature — Confidential Data Search — that allows fast and unlimited searches of encrypted data. The new software tool addresses a major challenge for companies in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare: how to use sensitive data to power business operations while maintaining strict privacy and compliance controls.
The company said the new product will be showcased at the 2023 Confidential Computing Summit on June 29 in San Francisco and will be generally available in the second half of 2023.
The launch comes at a critical time, as organizations face increasing pressure to secure their data and comply with strict privacy regulations. Richard Searle, VP of confidential computing at Fortanix, told VentureBeat in a recent interview that Confidential Data Search is “a practicable solution to real business problems” that banks and other organizations face today.
Solving the data protection challenge with confidential computing
Confidential Data Search taps into confidential computing, an emerging field focused on performing complex operations on encrypted data without decrypting it. Fortanix deploys encrypted databases in Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), secure areas of computer memory where data can be decrypted and used but is inaccessible to outside systems. Queries are also encrypted to protect the identity of the analysts conducting searches.
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“Essentially, it is confidential computing using Trusted Execution Environments. What we do is we deploy an image of an encrypted database within the Trusted Execution Environment where it can be safely decrypted and used to service the queries,” Searle told VentureBeat. “We also deploy the client-side SQL interface within a confidential computing environment to protect the identity of the analyst and the nature of the query.”
Searle also said that Fortanix Confidential Data Search does not require any modifications to existing databases or datasets, and customers do not need to convert data to a new format. He said that Fortanix has a product called Data Security Manager that enables transparent data encryption of standard enterprise databases, such as PostgreSQL and MySQL, and it can implement that within confidential computing without any modification.
He added that Fortanix has over 100 integrations for Data Security Manager, including with organizations like Snowflake and Databricks. He also said that they are talking to one of the major cloud providers about integrating the solution within their platform.
The future of AI security
Searle also shared his vision for the future of confidential computing and what role Fortanix will play in advancing the market. He said that confidential computing will become a ubiquitous part of compute platforms, especially in emerging technology paradigms like AI and ML.
“We’re doing a lot of work in artificial intelligence. We have been doing that for the last couple of years. Later this year, we hope to announce a couple of important developments. The first will be very fine-grained policy controls and support for large language models,” Searle told VentureBeat. “We’re also doing a lot of work around edge AI deployment, particularly ahead of the 6G marketplace. And we see confidential computing not only at the data center level where it has been traditionally, but also now moving to the edge as a particularly important strategy.”
According to a market study by Everest Group, the Confidential Computing market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 90-95% to reach $54 billion in 2026. The study cited the increasing demand for data security and privacy, especially in regulated industries like banking, finance, insurance, healthcare, life sciences and defense as well as the public sector.
Fortanix claims that its solution differs from other encrypted data storage solutions on the market, particularly in terms of performance and scalability. Searle ssaid that other solutions either rely on cryptographic methods like homomorphic encryption, which are impractical for complex datasets, or processing data in plain text and using permission controls, which are vulnerable to data breaches.
Fortanix has raised over $135.5 million in funding from investors including Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs) and GiantLeap Capital as well as Foundation Capital, Intel Capital, Neotribe Ventures and In-Q-Tel. The company has gained customers across multiple verticals including some in highly regulated industries.
The company says that it is committed to advancing the confidential computing ecosystem and is a founding member of the Confidential Computing Consortium, a Linux Foundation project that aims to accelerate the adoption of confidential computing technologies.
By leveraging confidential computing technology, Fortanix claims to offer a fast and scalable solution that enables organizations to securely search and analyze encrypted data in use, while complying with global regulations and policies. This could give Fortanix a competitive edge over other players in the space, such as Microsoft, IBM and Google, which are developing their own confidential computing solutions. Fortanix says its vision is to “make data security simple and accessible for everyone.” With its latest innovation, Fortanix seems to be one step closer to achieving that goal.