Privacy-Enhancing Technologies: Protecting Startups’ Data

September 27, 2023
We’ve identified some of the Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs) that startups are employing! 

Startups are increasingly dependent on the collection, processing, and use of personal data for their success. For that reason, businesses and startups take data breaches and privacy violations very seriously and implement measures to ensure their users’ data security. We’ve identified some of the Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs) that startups are employing!  

What are PETS?

PETs are cryptographic and non-cryptographic techniques and methodologies used to safeguard data from malicious forces and guarantee privacy. Projections indicate that their market size will grow tenfold during the next decade. By employing PETs, startups are not only better prepared to manage data and comply with relevant regulations but also to foster a culture that prioritises security and privacy. This, in turn, enhances their reputation as trustworthy stewards of personal information. To protect personal data, PETs can take the form of anonymisation tools. For example, “differential privacy” is an anonymisation technique that adds controlled noise to data, making it difficult to identify individuals while preserving the overall utility of the data for analysis. However, a common challenge of implementing this technique is minimising the risk while maximising the quality and utility of the data.

Different PETs have their own specific strengths and limitations. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every scenario, multiple PETs can be deployed simultaneously together in combination with other technologies, such as blockchain. Consider the use of blockchain-based “federated learning” with “trusted-execution environment”. Combining these technologies would allow multiple startups to collaborate independently in training a global machine learning model through various local servers in an isolated framework resistant to intrusions. By combining these technologies, each startup would be able to train the machine learning model using its own data within a secure and transparent blockchain-based environment.

Some of these techniques can be complex and expensive to implement and often require understanding of how the technology functions to ensure the best possible outcome. While malicious actors continue to evolve their tactics, PETs keep pace with these advancements. Ultimately, they empower smaller actors, such as startups, ensuring that they can have the same level of protection than the larger players and hence are able to compete.