Secure cloud-based data exchange solution usable over organization borders created in SUNFISH Horizon 2020 project.

What do local police organizations and hospitals have in common?

One common feature is that they can see only pieces of a bigger puzzle and are highly restricted when it comes to sharing data with external organizations. The bigger puzzle can be, for example, a virus outbreak or a nationwide series of incidents.

Data exchange is currently slow, ad hoc and uses manual processes even when the organization needing information is another local police unit or hospital. Even when the purpose is finding out similarities in cases or drawing conclusions from a multitude of similar events.

On the one hand, the highly restrictive and regulated approach to data protects it from unauthorized access while safeguarding our fundamental right for privacy. On the other hand, crime investigation and medical research need quality data fast, while retaining confidentiality and allowing only authorized access. Every missed opportunity to quickly identify the perpetrator or link incidents over different institutions has serious implications in direct damages and societal costs on the larger scale. On the reporting and research side, the lack of a secure standard slows down data exchange and wastes scarce resources.

To overcome this conflict of demands for confidentiality and regulated usability, the SUNFISH H2020 project, focusing on Advanced Cloud Infrastructures and Services, created a secure cloud-based solution usable over organization borders. A video about the use case is available from Youtube.

The blocks to build the solution were picked based on the e-government trend in countries like Estonia, Finland, Ukraine, Namibia and Haiti who have deployed the platform for secure federated data exchange on a national level. Cybernetica has envisioned the evolving of safe analysis solutions with secure multiparty computation as the next logical step. (See Riivo Talviste's PhD thesis about Applying Secure Multi-party Computation in Practice)

The solution integrates two Cybernetica's core platforms: the Unified Exchange Platform UXP for secure federated data exchange on country or international level, and the Sharemind secure computation platform for developing the application for secure search and sharing of information.

Together with the partners from the UK, South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, SEROCU and the University of Southampton, SOTON, Cybernetica developed the solution for encrypted sharing and finding relevant cases, while confidential data stays encrypted, and releasing the material to selected authorized individuals. Further explanation about the project and technical details about the usage of secure multiparty computation for sharing cybercrime investigation data can be found here

The SUNFISH secure search solution is deployed in a hybrid cloud environment and controlled by independent partners: The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) from Italy in their computing centre, Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) in the Azure public cloud and by Cybernetica in the Azure public cloud. The secure search solution developed in the SUNFISH project has high potential for making better case data available faster, thus improving the quality and effectiveness of investigations while allowing scalable cloud solutions to be used in a secure manner.

Cybernetica has seen similar type of needs in multiple countries inside and outside of the EU. There is a strong need and willingness to cooperate on organizational, local government and state level. Even two organizations can be innovators and use such a solution together. It is certain that the broader and faster the access to quality data is, the bigger the benefits become. We just need to be sure that confidential data stays confidential.

To further simplify cloud deployments of these core technologies, UXP Security server has been made available in the Microsoft Azure marketplace, Sharemind SDK and Emulator are available for developers with an Open Source GPL3 licence, Academic Server can be licenced for free to privacy research organizations and commercial licencing is available for service providers and resellers.

The SUNFISH project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644666.