Cybernetica’s Dan Bogdanov discusses how to share and analyse confidential data securely

On Wednesday, February 21st, Dr. Dan Bogdanov, the inventor of Sharemind, a secure multi-party computation system for collecting, sharing and processing private data, spoke to a full room on “Breaking the Privacy Barrier: Big Data Style Analytics Using Secure Computing” at the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs Seminar Series. Bogdanov has been a research team leader of multiple privacy technology research projects with the United States DARPA, European FP7, and Horizon 2020.

Bogdanov began the presentation by describing his experience at Cybernetica, where he has worked during the last ten years and is currently the Head of the Privacy Technologies Department. Cybernetica is an Estonia-based R&D intensive ICT company known for developing and manufacturing software solutions for several world-renowned e-Government projects, such as the Estonian “X-Road” state information platform and online voting software. The speaker explained how the company develops and runs secure multi-party computation systems that enable data-driven services in areas such as evidence-based policymaking and fraud detection.

Bogdanov then moved on to explaining how at Sharemind, a trademark of Cybernetica, they have researched and developed a framework for securely sharing and analysing confidential data, enabling governments and companies to launch new data driven services. Drawing from his experience working in collaboration with various government agencies in Estonia, Bogdanov outlined how we can already build data sharing systems that do not require users to see the data the system processes. Thus, with Sharemind technology we are able to analyse data from sources like tax and education records without ever seeing a single value point, enabling the creation of new knowledge with privacy controls in place for data subjects.

Against this backdrop, Lucas Kello discussed the security challenges that loom with respect to universal quantum computers. Could they pose a threat to Sharemind’s encryption methods? Bogdanov’s answer was mostly optimistic, pointing out that even under the worst-case scenario of an unfriendly power obtaining such a capability, there will be time to find a countervailing solution.