The data would no longer have to be decrypted first. The system uses Secure Data Exchange, which is based on the cryptography approach of secure multi-party computation. It means that third parties can access the data, which remains encrypted and shares their results. The software can also restrict what the user learns about the data, ensuring stronger levels for data protection.
This breakthrough could be beneficial for bringing down the cost of scientific research, allowing data to be protected even though it is being worked on. This new system could also be very important for keeping data safe while it is stored on cloud systems. Without the need for decryption, those who want to access the data for malicious purposes will find it much harder to do so.
The researchers have published a paper, which suggests a number of uses for the system in a number of different industries. The paper says that the current solutions in place involve costly systems of protection, but full privacy is still not guaranteed. Microsoft has published a blog post that details the financial benefits of the new system that ensures that data owners will have control over the amount of data that is released to the third party. The system is still part of a research project, but it is hoped that it will be available for general use in the near future.