Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2008/429

Public-Key Encryption with Efficient Amortized Updates

Nishanth Chandran and Rafail Ostrovsky and William E. Skeith III

Abstract: Searching and modifying public-key encrypted data (without having the decryption key) has received a lot of attention in recent literature. In this paper we re-visit this important problem and achieve much better amortized communication-complexity bounds. Our solution resolves the main open question posed by Boneh at al., \cite{BKOS07}.

First, we consider the following much simpler to state problem (which turns out to be central for the above): A server holds a copy of Alice's database that has been encrypted under Alice's public key. Alice would like to allow other users in the system to replace a bit of their choice in the server's database by communicating directly with the server, despite other users not having Alice's private key. However, Alice requires that the server should not know which bit was modified. Additionally, she requires that the modification protocol should have ``small" communication complexity (sub-linear in the database size). This task is referred to as private database modification, and is a central tool in building a more general protocol for modifying and searching over public-key encrypted data with small communication complexity. The problem was first considered by Boneh at al., \cite{BKOS07}. The protocol of \cite{BKOS07} to modify $1$ bit of an $N$-bit database has communication complexity $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt N)$. Naturally, one can ask if we can improve upon this. Unfortunately, \cite{OS08} give evidence to the contrary, showing that using current algebraic techniques, this is not possible to do. In this paper, we ask the following question: what is the communication complexity when modifying $L$ bits of an $N$-bit database? Of course, one can achieve naive communication complexity of $\mathcal{O}(L\sqrt N)$ by simply repeating the protocol of \cite{BKOS07}, $L$ times. Our main result is a private database modification protocol to modify $L$ bits of an $N$-bit database that has communication complexity $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{NL^{1+\alpha}}\textrm{poly-log~} N)$, where $0<\alpha<1$ is a constant. (We remark that in contrast with recent work of Lipmaa \cite{L08} on the same topic, our database size {\em does not grow} with every update, and stays exactly the same size.)

As sample corollaries to our main result, we obtain the following:

\begin{itemize} \item First, we apply our private database modification protocol to answer the main open question of \cite{BKOS07}. More specifically, we construct a public key encryption scheme supporting PIR queries that allows every message to have a non-constant number of keywords associated with it. \item Second, we show that one can apply our techniques to obtain more efficient communication complexity when parties wish to increment or decrement multiple cryptographic counters (formalized by Katz at al. ~\cite{KMO01}). \end{itemize}

We believe that ``public-key encrypted'' amortized database modification is an important cryptographic primitive in it's own right and will be a useful in other applications.

Category / Keywords: public-key cryptography / public key encryption, PIR, private database modification, communication complexity, expander graphs

Date: received 5 Oct 2008

Contact author: nishanth at cs ucla edu

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Version: 20081008:154018 (All versions of this report)

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