June 14, 2021

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Response-Hiding Encrypted Ranges: Revisiting Security via Parametrized Leakage-Abuse Attacks, by Evgenios M. Kornaropoulos and Charalampos Papamanthou and Roberto Tamassia

Despite a growing body of work on leakage-abuse attacks for encrypted databases, attacks on practical response-hiding constructions are yet to appear. Response-hiding constructions are superior in that they nullify access-pattern based attacks by revealing only the search token and the result size of each query. Response-hiding schemes are vulnerable to existing volume attacks, which are, however, based on strong assumptions such as the uniform query assumption or the dense database assumption. More crucially, these attacks only apply to schemes that cannot be deployed in practice (ones with quadratic storage and increased leakage) while practical response-hiding schemes (Demertzis et al. [SIGMOD’16] and Faber et al. [ESORICS’15]) have linear storage and less leakage. Due to these shortcomings, the value of existing volume attacks on response-hiding schemes is unclear.

In this work, we close the aforementioned gap by introducing a parametrized leakage-abuse attack that applies to practical response-hiding structured encryption schemes. The use of non-parametric estimation techniques makes our attack agnostic to both the data and the query distribution. At the very core of our technique lies the newly defined concept of a counting function with respect to a range scheme. We propose a two-phase framework to approximate the counting function for any range scheme. By simply switching one counting function for another, i.e., the so-called “parameter” of our modular attack, an adversary can attack different encrypted range schemes. We propose a constrained optimization formulation for the attack algorithm that is based on the counting functions. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our leakage-abuse attack on synthetic and real-world data under various scenarios.