Paper 2017/024

Searchable Encrypted Relational Databases: Risks and Countermeasures

Mohamed Ahmed Abdelraheem, Tobias Andersson, and Christian Gehrmann


We point out the risks of protecting relational databases via Searchable Symmetric Encryption (SSE) schemes by proposing an inference attack exploiting the structural properties of relational databases. We show that record-injection attacks mounted on relational databases have worse consequences than their file-injection counterparts on un- structured databases. Moreover, we discuss some techniques to reduce the effectiveness of inference attacks exploiting the access pattern leakage existing in SSE schemes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that investigates the security of relational databases protected by SSE schemes.

Note: corrected some typos

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. MINOR revision.Data Privacy Management 12th International Workshop (co-located with ESORICS 2017)
searchable symmetric encryptionrelational databasesinference attacksinjection attacksprivacy constraintsvertical fragmentation
Contact author(s)
moh ahm abdelraheem @ gmail com
2018-05-01: last of 9 revisions
2017-01-13: received
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      author = {Mohamed Ahmed Abdelraheem and Tobias Andersson and Christian Gehrmann},
      title = {Searchable Encrypted Relational Databases: Risks and Countermeasures},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2017/024},
      year = {2017},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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