Cybernetica leads international consortium studying new methods for preserving privacy
Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

Estonian SME Cybernetica AS is leading new research project investigating secure multiparty computation (SMC) methods within the Future Emerging Technology Open Scheme in the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union. Objectives of the project UaESMC (Usable and Efficient Secure Multiparty Computation) are to research ways of making SMC faster, and to develop a framework that simplifies the application of SMC technologies.

Secure multiparty computation can be used for preserving privacy and confidentiality of information in software systems. Unfortunately, use of SMC in practice has been time-consuming and has required too much additional work and knowledge from the developers. The European Union has signed a grant agreement with the consortium led by Cybernetica to find ways for bringing this powerful medium closer to the end-user. The research consortium also includes the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) of Sweden, the University of Athens and the University of Tartu.

Cybernetica's research director Peeter Laud explains the practical advantages of this method, "Secure multiparty computation allows researchers to perform studies on sensitive personal information without violating the privacy of persons submitting the information. In addition, this method allows competing businesses to work together, for instance, on logistics, without revealing their data to each other." In the course of the project UaESMC the consortium will study which practical problems can benefit from the application of secure multiparty computation.

Project uniqueness comes from interdisciplinary combination of different fields both inside and outside ICTs. Researchers from University of Tartu, Institute of Journalism and Communication will bring social sciences know-how to investigating users of an emerging technology. Specialists in University of Athens will use game theory to determine the motivation and possible gain of adversaries. In addition, general and problem-specific protocols for the usage of SMC will be developed jointly. As a result of this research project a analytical framework will be proposed proving recommendations, guidelines and protocols for implementing the secure software system based on the problem description given by the user.