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Security & Identity

How Confidential Computing can transform cloud security

April 26, 2023
Sunil Potti

VP/GM, Google Cloud Security

Sam Lugani

Group Product Manager, Google

As one of the most trusted cloud platform providers, Google is committed to providing our clients secure and reliable environments for their workloads. Google believes the future of computing will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where users can be confident that their data is not being exposed to cloud providers or their own insiders. Confidential Computing helps make this future possible by keeping data encrypted in memory, and elsewhere outside the CPU, while it is being processed.

Since our first Confidential Computing offering in 2018, Google has been a pioneer in making the technology widely available through our cloud, while also constantly adding new features that allow a wide range of organizations to benefit from it. 

Expanding the Confidential Computing portfolio

Today at the RSA Conference 2023, we are announcing several exciting updates to our Confidential Computing portfolio.

We are expanding our portfolio with the next generation of our Confidential Computing VM instances that utilize AMD Infinity Guard technology, specifically AMD SEV-SNP (Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Secure Nested Paging). SEV-SNP adds additional new hardware-based security protections such as strong memory integrity protection and hardware rooted attestation. Confidential VMs on general purpose N2D VMs with SEV-SNP enabled are now in Private Preview. Learn more in our deep dive here.

“Advanced, hardware-based security features – such as AMD Infinity Guard built into AMD EPYC processors – are a crucial part of cloud offerings and the further expansion of cloud computing,” said Ram Peddibhotla, corporate vice president, Cloud Business, AMD. “Our work with Google Cloud delivers on the leadership security features our joint customers demand with nearly effortless implementation and minimal performance impact as more mission critical and business critical workloads move to the cloud.”

Google is committed to ensuring Confidential Computing technology is as secure as possible before releasing products to customers. We constantly evaluate various attack vectors to make certain that Google Cloud Confidential Computing environments are protected against a wide range of attacks. 

Throughout last year, Google and Intel collaborated on a research project to identify potential security vulnerabilities in Intel's new Confidential Computing technology, Trust Domain Extensions (TDX). We’ve recently released the full report and made it available in our blog here.

“We want to make it such that people don’t worry about the security and trustworthiness of their data,” said Anil Rao, vice president and general manager of systems architecture and engineering in the Office of the CTO at Intel. “Organizations use confidential computing to control their data and provide access to trusted parties in a manner that is verifiable, revocable and time sensitive - we have an obligation to make sure the technology is secure. Our early effort with Google solidifies our commitment to perform thorough analysis to address all potential vulnerabilities.”

Confidential Space is now in general availability. Confidential Space builds on Confidential Computing and provides a secure enclave, also known as a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). Google Cloud customers can leverage the TEE for various privacy-focused use cases such as joint data analysis and machine learning (ML) model training, with trust guarantees that data can stay protected — including hardened protection against cloud service provider access. 

Confidential Space allows for new privacy-preserving technologies to take shape, and one such technology is The Privacy Sandbox. This is a crucial step forward as Privacy Sandbox for the Web will phase out third-party cookies and limit covert tracking. By supporting a choice of trusted execution environments, including Confidential Space, the Privacy Sandbox will provide ad-techs with safer alternatives to existing technology, so they can continue building digital businesses while keeping user data private.

“Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) are already in use across industries such as digital advertising to enable privacy preserving analytics, and we are excited to leverage Google Cloud’s built-in TEE called Confidential Space,” said Gaurav Bhaya, vice president and general manager, Google Ads Measurement.

Building on our history of innovation with Confidential Computing

Google has worked diligently with internal and external partners to validate, audit and publish the security assessment of the hardware, firmware, and software that underpins Confidential Computing. 

Last year, a joint security effort between Google Project Zero, Google Cloud, and AMD led to more secure technology for the entire industry, regardless of what service provider you choose for your Confidential Computing deployment. You can learn more in our full report here.

Since then, we have continued to expand the portfolio of Confidential Computing products and services, including Confidential Virtual Machines (CVMs), Confidential GKE, Confidential Dataproc, and Confidential Space. These offerings give our customers more choice in their deployments. 

Currently, our Confidential Computing services are widely available across 80% of Google Cloud regions and growing, and we recently added support for Compute-Optimized C2D VMs for Confidential GKE.

Organizations are now leveraging Confidential Computing for joint data analysis and machine learning (ML) model training with trust guarantees that the data they own stays protected and across various other industries by organizations, including AstraZeneca, Bullish, HashiCorp, Matrixx Software, MonetaGo and Yellowdog.

Confidential Computing has also proven to be a helpful additional control for organizations implementing digital sovereignty strategies, providing an encryption capability, and protection for data-in-use where encryption keys are not accessible by the cloud provider.

We can’t wait to see the possibilities this technology will open up for your organization. Check out our Confidential Computing page to learn more.

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