Laura Blackstone (Brown University), Seny Kamara (Brown University), Tarik Moataz (Brown University)

Encrypted search algorithms (ESA) are cryptographic algorithms that support search over encrypted data. ESAs can be designed with various primitives including searchable/structured symmetric encryption (SSE/STE) and oblivious RAM (ORAM). Leakage abuse attacks attempt to recover client queries using knowledge of the client's data. An important parameter for any leakage-abuse attack is its known-data rate; that is, the fraction of client data that must be known to the adversary.

In this work, we revisit leakage abuse attacks in several ways. We first highlight the practical limitations and assumptions underlying the often-cited IKK (Islam et al. NDSS '12) and Count (Cash et al., CCS '15) attacks. We then design four new leakage-abuse attacks that rely on much weaker assumptions. Three of these attacks are volumetric in the sense that they only exploit leakage related to document sizes. In particular, this means that they work not only on SSE/STE-based ESAs but also against ORAM-based solutions. We also introduce two volumetric injection attack which use adversarial file additions to recover queries even from ORAM-based solutions. As far as we know, these are the first attacks of their kind.

We evaluated all our attacks empirically and considered many experimental settings including different data collections, query selectivities, known-data rates, query space size and composition. From our experiments, we observed that the only setting that resulted in reasonable recovery rates under practical assumptions was the case of high-selectivity queries with a leakage profile that includes the response identity pattern (i.e., the identifiers of the matching documents) and the volume pattern (i.e., the size of the matching documents). All other attack scenarios either failed or relied on unrealistic assumptions (e.g., very high known-data rates). For this specific setting, we propose several suggestions and countermeasures including the use of schemes like PBS (Kamara et al, CRYPTO '18), VLH/AVLH (Kamara and Moataz, Eurocrypt '19), or the use of padding techniques like the ones recently proposed by Bost and Fouque (Bost and Fouque, IACR ePrint 2017/1060).

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