Homomorphic Encryption - The Act of Processing Data without Decrypting

Written by Full-Stack Developer

March 8, 2024
Homomorphic Encryption - The Act of Processing Data without Decrypting

Whether we are sharing information via email, APIs, file-sharing platforms, or cloud storage services, safeguarding this data is important to prevent exploitation by cybercriminals. Securing data involves employing various technologies and methods, and one effective method for this protection is encryption.

The role of encryption is to protect the confidentiality of data. The encryption process protects data by scrambling it so that only authorized parties with the appropriate key can access it. This process involves converting plaintext to ciphertext (encrypted text) using an algorithm called Cipher. There are three (2) main types of encryption, they are asymmetric, and symmetric encryption.

There are a lot of mathematical computations involved in encryption, and this is a field of its own. To understand encryption deeply, you have to know cryptography and learn mathematical foundations like number theory, probability, and algebra, on which the holomorphic name is based. This field is very broad, and it covers more than just encryption and hashing.

In this article, we’ll be simplifying and discussing a type of encryption that is considered a type of asymmetric encryption called homomorphic encryption, as well as how it can be a solution to enhancing privacy in hosting environments.

What is Homomorphic Encryption?

Homormophic is based on algebra, meaning “a structure-preserving map between algebraic structures of the same type,” e.g., two groups or vector spaces. Homomorphic encryption is a form of encryption that allows computation to be performed on encrypted data without ever having to decrypt it.

Primarily, to perform computations (processing data to derive meaningful results) on encrypted data, such as mathematical operations, the data has to be decrypted first. The necessary computations will then be performed, after which the data is encrypted and sent back to the entity that initiated the computation.

However, by using homomorphic encryption, we can encrypt and outsource information to cloud service environments without third-party access to our raw data. In other words, organizations can use the computational power of cloud services to perform computations while their data remains confidential.

Let’s look at another scenario;

A company wishes to send data to a data analyst to identify the locations of their active clients. When the data is transmitted to the data analyst via a web service, it undergoes encryption, and during this transmission, computations are performed on the encrypted data to ensure its security and prevent exploitation. However, when using homomorphic encryption for these secure computations, the data isn't necessarily decrypted by the web service provider. Instead, the web service provider can perform computations directly on the encrypted data without the need for decryption.

When the encrypted data reaches its destination, which is the analyst, the analyst then performs the analysis using homomorphic techniques on the still-encrypted data. The results, also in encrypted form, are sent back to the company. The company, possessing the decryption key, can decrypt the analysis results. This process ensures that there's no decryption during the data's transit or when it reaches its destination, and vice versa

Benefits of Homomorphic Encryption

The many benefits of homomorphic encryption include;

Data Sovereignty: Homomorphic encryption supports data sovereignty because it allows users to maintain control over their information even in online territory.

Data Consent: Homomorphic encryption reconciles privacy with the internet, giving users the authority to maintain control over their data

Secure and Efficient Use of the Cloud: Organizations can secure data independently without depending on cloud services while using their computational power to perform computations on data.

Regulatory Compliance: Businesses that are heavily regulated can outsource services without having to worry about the risk of non-compliance.

There are three types of Homomorphic Encryption, and they include;

  • PHE - Partially Homomorphic Encryption: This allows only one operation to be performed on the ciphertext, an infinite number of times. This operation can only be addition or multiplication, and they are useful in operations that use one arithmetic operation.

  • SHE - Somewhat Homomorphic Encryption: Allows multiplication or additional operations to be performed for a limited number of times.

  • FHE - Fully Homomorphic Encryption: Allows both addition and multiplication operations to be performed on the ciphertext, and for an infinite number of times.

Before we dive into how homomorphic encryption can be a solution to enhancing privacy in hosting environments, let’s go through a brief definition of web hosting and the importance of data privacy and security in hosting.


If you’re not new to the internet, website building, and deployment, you have come across the term web hosting and what it’s about. In simple terms, the web host houses the website. A hosting provider like Verpex Stores maintains website files and applications on a server.

There are different types of hosting services, which include shared hosting, reseller hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers, etc. These companies use servers stored in a facility called a data center, which provides power, network connectivity, cooling systems, fire suppression, and security.

Therefore, we can say that it is a computer and network infrastructure that keeps your website and makes it available across the internet. When you pay to host your website, you’re paying for physical disk space on a server and the bandwidth (internet connection for the server).

The Importance of Data Privacy and Security in Hosting

The importance of data privacy and security in hosting

The importance of data privacy and security in hosting must be emphasized because information or data, both private and sensitive, are constantly in transit around the internet. Data privacy and security work in synch - you cannot have one without the other. Especially, because security provides the tools and mechanisms necessary to establish and maintain data privacy. Let’s examine both terms individually;

Data security: This prevents digital data from being corrupted or accessed without authorization. It focuses on access controls, firewalls and network security, encryption, backup and recovery, intrusion detection and prevention, physical security, etc. As part of security, data encryption and masking are employed to protect data from getting into the wrong hands. Hosting companies like Verpex provide security to websites by using security measures such as SSL/TLS encryption, regular backups, firewalls, regular updates and maintenance, etc.

Data Privacy: This is also referred to as information privacy; it relates to managing sensitive data whether confidential, financial, intellectual, or personal. Data privacy focuses on consent and transparency, user permissions, legal compliance, etc.

How Homomorphic Encryption can be a Tool for Hosting

Fully homomorphic encryption can be valuable in cloud-based services; the web-based service has no clue what the data is about, maintaining and enhancing data privacy/security- in this sense, its agnostic. Homomorphic encryption has the potential to create opportunities for confidential computing in fields like medicine, finance, research, web hosting, and so on because it performs computations on encrypted data; therefore, sensitive data can be shared without the fear of misuse.

However, the practical use of homomorphic encryption is still evolving, and there are issues at this current stage based on performance. There’s a large gap when it comes to the speed of computing on encrypted data and computing on data in plain text form. While it takes one second to execute computations using plaintext, it would take about 11 days to execute computations using the current homomorphic encryption libraries

In the hosting scenario, its capabilities are yet to be explored as well, but it can provide an additional layer of protection for highly sensitive data shared on hosting servers. Even if there’s a security breach, the data is still unreadable without a decrypting key. Hosting providers cannot access raw data even while performing analytics on data; homomorphic encryption ensures that raw data is unexposed, safeguarding users' information.



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Data is most vulnerable during different processes during the encryption or decryption phase. Hence, organizations or businesses must follow the necessary practices to ensure security. Homomorphic encryption is a newer and unique type of encryption due to how it can perform computations on encrypted data and facilitate data privacy that is stored in any form of persistent storage or computing system. It’s magical and complex, and it would require a lot of processing power, time, and resources. Overall, homomorphic encryption is slower than traditional encryption methods and may not support all types of computation. Also, the cost of efficiency in terms of speed and storage requirements is a lot compared to plaintext operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between masking and encryption?

Masking focuses on hiding or disguising sensitive data without altering its format, while encryption transforms data into an unreadable format using cryptographic algorithms and keys to provide strong security and confidentiality. Masking is typically used for data presentation purposes, while encryption is employed to protect data from unauthorized access.

Can I use my encryption keys in cloud hosting?

Yes, many cloud hosts offer Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) services, allowing you to use your own encryption keys.

Check with your provider for setup details.

How can I ensure data security with chatbots?

To protect customer data, implement encryption, access control, and regularly update your chatbot's security measures. Comply with data protection regulations and provide transparent privacy policies.

What security is proved by the data host?

Your host will provide firewalls, antivirus and encryption as standard.

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