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A Bold New Plan for Preserving Online Privacy and Security

IEEE Spectrum: “…We’re all hoping that companies will keep us safe, but it’s increasingly clear that they don’t, can’t, and won’t. We should stop expecting them to.” To ensure that cloud services do not learn more than they should, and that a breach of one does not pose a fundamental threat to our data, we need two types of decoupling. The first is organizational decoupling: dividing private information among organizations such that none knows the totality of what is going on. The second is functional decoupling: splitting information among layers of software. Identifiers used to authenticate users, for example, should be kept separate from identifiers used to connect their devices to the network. In designing decoupled systems, cloud providers should be considered potential threats, whether due to malice, negligence, or greed. To verify that decoupling has been done right, we can learn from how we think about encryption: You’ve encrypted properly if you’re comfortable sending your message with your adversary’s communications system. Similarly, you’ve decoupled properly if you’re comfortable using cloud services that have been split across a noncolluding group of adversaries…”

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