CityDefend: Enabling Users to Search Directly over Encrypted Data

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Muttukrishnan Rajarajan, CEO, CityDefendMuttukrishnan Rajarajan, CEO
The adoption of cloud computing represents both major opportunities and challenges. Despite providing businesses with flexible and scalable computing resources, it often leads to security vulnerabilities. In fact, the DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 mentions that 68 percent of SMEs and 75 percent of enterprises reported breaches in the last 12 months. That’s why organizations need to rightly encrypt their sensitive/at-risk data. However, even after realizing the importance of encryption, businesses are still struggling to implement it owing to their inability to identify and integrate encrypted data with applications that impacts workflow and productivity. The inability to search encrypted data, and therefore the inability to use encryption extensively, leaves the business exposed to several risks (commercial, financial, reputational, compliance) depending on the industry. The situation has become more complicated due to the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. As businesses are migrating and shifting their key operations to the cloud, it has become essential to address the questions of trust, security, and control.

This is where CityDefend steps in. As a searchable encryption mechanism, CityDefend enables end-users to search directly over encrypted data securely (homomorphic encryption-based), privately (non-deterministic search), and efficiently (no need for index table and easily integrated via API). “CityDefend is a patent pending technology that empowers organizations to securely store their sensitive data on the cloud while being able to query it and use it for subsequent processes,” says Muttukrishnan Rajarajan, CEO of CityDefend.

The company helps businesses protect their most sensitive data and maintain the ability to query it in protected form without trading off security and usability. For instance, police forces can encrypt confidential data and documents while maintaining their ability to search and utilize relevant data without compromising citizens’ safety. Based on a state-of-the-art encryption technique, CityDefend uses a novel mechanism to design the non-deterministic search queries that obfuscate the search patterns mitigating the risks of distinguishability attacks. “Malicious attackers are unable to infer any information about the query or the dataset. Hence the system is immune to statistical attacks,” Raj continues. “This is the first searchable encryption scheme that combines this degree of privacy preservation with homomorphic encryption (HE).”

Malicious attackers are unable to infer any information about the query or the dataset. Hence the system is immune to statistical attacks

Also, unlike conventional search techniques, CityDefend eliminates the need for centralized data structures which reduces network latency, storage overhead, and provides scalability across hybrid- and cross-cloud platforms.

More importantly, the CityDefend API allows organizations to integrate easily with front end interfaces and back end server configurations to deliver privacy-preserving searchable encryption capabilities with minimal change to existing infrastructure. The client-side API lives within the enterprise and ensures no plain text sensitive data leaves the secure perimeter, thus maximizing security. The server-side API integrates wherever the data must reside, with no major changes to the underlying server architecture. “We allow users to update, delete, and modify the encrypted data at runtime,” mentions Raj.

CityDefend has the capability to serve both enterprises and third-party vendors. For instance, the company is working with a manufacturer of FPGA based hardware accelerators to achieve high-speed search, which is one of the practical bottlenecks of homomorphic encryption. “Their ultrafast, FPGA-based devices are capable of interrogating, analyzing, and processing data at an exponential rate. The collaboration involved delivery of privacy preserving searchable encryption over sensitive data at high speed on dedicated devices for use in aerospace and defence applications. This capability was also presented to national security and policing stakeholders recently,” Raj elucidates. Also, by collaborating with an eSign and document management service provider that works across a range of sectors, CityDefend develops an encrypted search feature to enhance their existing offering to allow customers to search over signed documents.

These projects give CityDefend the impetus to continually enhance its capabilities. In the coming years, the company will release new solutions based on customer demands. “Our team is balanced by deep technical knowledge gained through many years in leading academic roles, coupled with substantial experience in the commercialization of software products and growth of start ups. We believe our founding team has the necessary skillset to understand the problem and deliver a relevant solution to the market, as well as to guide the future product roadmap to continue adding value to customers and end users,” concludes Raj.
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Muttukrishnan Rajarajan, CEO

CityDefend allows Cloud Service Providers, Enterprises and their clients to store encrypted data on the Cloud while being able to search over it. Its pioneering solution gives users full control over the data stored on the Cloud. The state-of-the-art Searchable Encryption solution reduces the network latency and the storage overhead, whereas, it is scalable across cross-cloud platforms. Hence, CityDefend has a profound impact across different verticals including Financial, Healthcare, Telecommunication, Legal Services, government and the Law Enforcement sectors. Our offering includes an API and a Cloud Integrated Desktop Application