113th TechDay with Google Cloud participation

08/04/2021     TechDays / Privacy / PET / SmartAL / Cloud

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On the 24th of March, another TechDay took place, this time focused on the theme "Privacy - Can Technology Help?".

In its 113th edition, the 129 participants had the opportunity to watch a set of presentations moderated by Miguel Biscaia, responsible for the Technology Group of the Technology and Innovation Strategy department of Altice Labs, and assured by Professor Bernardo Bacelar, from the Faculty of Science of the University of Porto, Tiago Sá, Customer Engineer of Google Cloud Portugal, and Mafalda Nunes, also from the Technology Group of the Technology and Innovation Strategy department of Altice Labs.

After Miguel Biscaia's opening speech, Professor Bernardo Portela started by presenting the cloud paradigm that, although it may be an environment (still) "unreliable", it presents several advantages, namely in terms of agility and instantiation cost reduction. Regarding data, especially sensitive data, and the way it is processed and treated, Professor Bernardo Portela spoke about the concept of cryptography, more specifically privacy enhancing technologies (PETs), security preservation techniques with the possibility of some kind of computation, such as fully homomorphic encryption (FHE), partial homomorphic encryption, searchable encryption, multi-party computation, among others. However, he clarified that, although the first technique, FHE, presents the best security guarantees, it has a heavy implementation that compromises the performance and scalability of the solutions. Other techniques, although allowing fewer actions, may offer a better balance between information protection and simplicity of the solutions to be implemented, being always necessary to carefully select the most appropriate techniques for each use case, and always weighing scalability, performance, and vulnerability exploitation risk that may exist.

The next presentation, by Tiago Sá, addressed the topic of security and privacy in the cloud in a holistic, end-to-end vision, from the support infrastructures to the end user/customer. In a paradigm of security and shared responsibility, adapted to the service offer, Tiago briefly presented the tools that Google Cloud provides to its customers to better achieve their security and compliance goals, highlighting the importance of transparency in access to user data as a way to safeguard the privacy of information and the relationship of trust with them. Audited and recorded processes for evaluation and consultation, as well as approval workflows that consider end-user involvement are, from his point of view, crucial to demonstrate compliance with best practices in data privacy. He concluded his presentation by showing Google Cloud's solution for multi-cloud systems, an offering with the ability to ensure the same level of consistency regarding security policies and configurations.

Finally, Mafalda Nunes presented some use cases that could benefit from the inclusion of PETs in their implementation, such as cross-service profiling, data enrichment with third-party information, or even the encryption of databases with privacy protection techniques. Mafalda presented the practical case of the implementation of some of these technologies in SmartAL, an assisted living platform developed at Altice Labs, discussing the impact they have on the complexity, size of the stored data and system performance indicators. In her opinion, although there is still a need for research in this area, some of these technologies already present stability and maturity adequate for a practical implementation in specific use cases, with security guarantee and without compromising usability.

These presentations were followed by the usual moment of questions to the speakers by both the moderator and the participants.

If you didn't have the opportunity to watch it, check out the recording at Altice Labs Youtube channel.

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