Privacy-Preserving ECG Classification with Branching Programs and Neural Networks

Barni, Mauro, Failla, Pierluigi, Lazzeretti, Riccardo, Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, Thomas Schneider

Accepted for IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security (TIFS).


Privacy protection is a crucial problem in many biomedical signal processing applications. For this reason particular attention has been given to the use of secure multi party computation techniques for processing biomedical signals, whereby non-trusted parties are able to manipulate the signals although they are encrypted.

This paper focuses on the development of a privacy preserving automatic diagnosis system whereby a remote server classifies a biomedical signal provided by the client without getting any information about the signal itself and the final result of the classification. Specifically, we present and compare two methods for the secure classification of ElectroCardioGram (ECG) signals: the former based on Linear Branching Programs (a particular kind of decision tree) and the latter relying on Neural Networks.

The paper faces with all the requirements and difficulties related to working with data that must stay encrypted during all the computation steps, including the necessity of working with fixed point arithmetic with no truncation while guaranteeing the same performance of a floating point implementation in the plain domain. A highly efficient version of the underlying cryptographic primitives is used, ensuring a good efficiency of the two proposed methods, from both a communication and computational complexity perspectives.

The proposed systems prove that carrying out complex tasks like ECG classification in the encrypted domain efficiently is indeed possible in the semi-honest model, paving the way to interesting future applications wherein privacy of signal owners is protected by applying high security standards.

Tags: preserving, privacy