Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2017/803

Role-Based Ecosystem Model for Design, Development, and Deployment of Secure Multi-Party Data Analytics Applications

Andrei Lapets and Mayank Varia and Azer Bestavros and Frederick Jansen

Abstract: Individuals and organizations face a tension between (1) the explosion in the amount of valuable data that can be collected and processed and (2) the liability of possession and the threat of exposure of data (which may be sensitive) due to malicious actors, criminal enterprises, and software errors. These threats can lead entities to protect their data throughout its lifecycle, discouraging them from sharing it (or even assessing if sharing has value). Consequently, opportunities to benefit from collaborative data analysis are lost. Secure multi-party computation (MPC) can recover these opportunities and empower both individuals and organizations to benefit from collective data aggregation and analysis in contexts where data sharing is encumbered by confidentiality concerns, legal restrictions, or corporate policies. Theoretical constructs for MPC have been known for 35 years, with several existing software frameworks designed over the past 10 years. Successful examples of deploying MPC for social good include tax fraud detection, disease surveillance, and pay equity assessment.

Our own experiences deploying MPC indicate that the technology is beyond ready for transition and deployment in the real world for appropriate scenarios and at suitable scales. MPC's benefits are often subtle and identifying compatible scenarios that would benefit from MPC is a multi-disciplinary array of challenges. Many difficulties and opportunities remain in terms of both the accessibility and the scalability of the candidate solutions for a given scenario. How can the community ensure that further research and development efforts lead to building blocks that will have the flexibility necessary to fit idiosyncratic real-world use cases?

Based on our insights, we advocate for the construction of a collection of production-quality, modular, open-source components that can support a broad ecosystem in which organizations and developers can rapidly spin up applications that employ MPC (or related technologies) to protect security-sensitive data, perform privacy-preserving computations, and enable new opportunities for collective data analysis that are currently inhibited or disincentivized by legal, institutional, or economic constraints. Such an ecosystem can allow and incentivize data owners and a diverse assortment of service providers to leverage sensitive data in deriving new insights that serve participant goals and/or the public interest.

In addition to its security benefits, the ecosystem vision facilitates separation of responsibilities and areas or expertise by decoupling the work of software engineers, lawyers, data analysts, communications infrastructure providers, cloud providers, and others. Crucial ingredients for a realization of such an ecosystem include modular design of functionalities that enable delivery of MPC services, composable security analyses of such functionalities, policy-agnostic programming and static analysis techniques that enable modularity and scalability, and accessible and scalable production-quality software applications that utilize MPC functionalities.

Category / Keywords: implementation / secure multi-party computation

Date: received 25 Aug 2017, last revised 26 Aug 2017

Contact author: lapets at bu edu

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Version: 20170828:150449 (All versions of this report)

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