SHARE - Sharing data with cryptographic and differentially private guarantees


Universität Oldenburg
Fakultät II – Department für Informatik
Abteilung Safety-Security-Interaction
26111 Oldenburg


Ingrid Ahlhorn

+49 (0) 441 - 798 2426

A05 1-134

Uhlhornsweg 84,  26129 Oldenburg

SHARE - Sharing data with cryptographic and differentially private guarantees

SHARE - Sharing data with cryptographic and differentially private guarantees

(dies ist ein Projekt zusammen mit dem Forschungsteam an der Universität Twente in den Niederlanden)

The modern economy is largely data-driven and relies on the processing and sharing of data across
organizations as a key contributor to its success. At the same time, the value, amount, and sensitivity of
processed data is steadily increasing, making it a major target of cyber-attacks. A large fraction of the
many reported data breaches happened in the healthcare sector, mostly affecting privacy-sensitive data
such as medical records and other patient data. This puts data security technologies as a priority item on
the agenda of many healthcare organizations, such as of the Dutch health insurance company Centraal
Ziekenfonds (CZ). In particular when it comes to sharing data securely, practical data protection
technologies are lacking as they mostly focus on securing the link between two organizations while being
completely oblivious of what is happening with the data after sharing. For CZ, searchable encryption (SE)
technologies that allow to share data in encrypted form, while enabling the private search on this
encrypted data without the need to decrypt, are of particular interest. Unfortunately, existing efficient SE
schemes completely leak the access pattern (= pattern of encrypted search results, e.g. identifiers of
retrieved items) and the search pattern (= pattern of search queries, e.g. frequency of same queries),
making them susceptible to leakage-abuse attacks that exploit this leakage to recover what has been
queried for and/or (parts of) the shared data itself.

The SHARE project investigates ways to reduce the leakage in searchable encryption in order to
mitigate the impact of leakage-abuse attacks while keeping the performance-level high enough for
practical use. Concretely, we propose the construction of SE schemes that allow the leakage to be
modeled as a statistic released on the queries and shared dataset in terms of ε-differential privacy, a
well-established notion that informally says that, after observing the statistic, you learn approximately
(determined by the ε-parameter) the same amount of information about an individual data item or query
as if the item was not present in the dataset or the query has not been performed. Naturally, such an
approach will produce false positives and negatives in the querying process, affecting the scheme’s
performance. By calibrating the ε-parameter, we can achieve various leakage-performance trade-offs
tailored to the needs of specific applications.

SHARE explores the idea of differentially private leakage on different parts of SE with different search
capabilities, starting with exact-keyword-match SE schemes with differentially private leakage on the
access pattern only, up to schemes with differentially private leakage on the access and search pattern
as well as on the shared dataset itself, allowing for more expressive query types like fuzzy match, range,
or substring queries. SHARE comes with an attack lab in which we investigate existing and new types of
leakage-abuse attacks to assess the mitigation-potential of our proposed combination of differential
privacy with cryptographic guarantees in searchable encryption.

(Stand: 19.01.2024)  | 
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