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Protecting Web ­sers' Privacy

By MIT News

March 29, 2017

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Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Stanford University have developed Splinter, a new encryption system that disguises users' database queries so they reveal no private information.

The new system splits up a query and distributes it across copies of the same database on multiple servers. The servers return results that make sense only when recombined according to a procedure that only the user knows. If at least one of the servers can be trusted, it is impossible for anyone other than the user to determine what query the servers executed.

Splinter users a technique called function secret sharing, first described in 2015 by a trio of Israel computer scientists.

The researchers found Splinter could return a result from a database with millions of entries in about a second.

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