Research project

A Story of metadata

Each time you request an access to an encrypted file on a storage server you create metadata. That metadata will be the path to the file you asked, the time when you asked it, your ownership on the file… An attacker spying on that server could intercept all the metadata and then retrieve some sensitive information even if your data itself remain encrypted. For the attacker point of view it is like having an access to your phone or email survey. The problem is that you cannot hide that kind of metadata with a classic encryption scheme.

The purpose of my Phd is to work on a model that is able to hide these data to the server: an Oblivious Random Access Machine (ORAM) system. This is a cryptographic construction that allows clients to access encrypted data residing on an untrusted storage server, while completely hiding the access patterns to storage. Particularly, the sequence of physical addresses accessed is independent of the actual data that the user is accessing. To achieve this, existing ORAM constructions continuously download, re-encrypt, reshuffle and re-upload data blocks on the storage server, to cryptographically conceal the logical access pattern.

However, the existing ORAM schemes are limited in terms of complexity and are therefore not practical for application in real-world storage providers.

Acknowledgement

This work is supported and funded by

  • Irish Research Council, the mission of the Irish Research Council is to enable and sustain a vibrant research community in Ireland by supporting excellent researchers in all disciplines. #LoveIrishResearch
  • The Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre.

irc lero