Paper 2020/1328

SWiSSSE: System-Wide Security for Searchable Symmetric Encryption

Zichen Gui, Kenneth G. Paterson, Sikhar Patranabis, and Bogdan Warinschi


This paper initiates a new direction of research for searchable symmetric encryption (SSE). We provide comprehensive security models and notions for SSE in the simulation tradition that encompass leakage from the whole SSE system, including accesses to encrypted indices and the encrypted database documents themselves. We provide static and dynamic SSE constructions targeting our new notions. Our constructions involve a combination of novel techniques: bucketization to hide volumes of responses to queries; delayed, pseudorandom write-backs to disrupt access patterns; and indistinguishable search and update operations. The oblivious operations make it easy to establish strong versions of forward and backward security for our dynamic SSE scheme and rule out file-injection attacks. Our implementation of the dynamic SSE scheme demonstrates that it offers very strong security against general classes of leakage-abuse attack with moderate overhead. Our schemes scale smoothly to databases containing hundreds of thousand of documents and millions of keyword-document pairs.

Note: We present updated experimental results evaluating the leakage abuse resistance of SWiSSSE on additional databases. We also include some additional discussions and minor typo-fixes.

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Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
Searchable Symmetric EncryptionSystem-Wide SecurityLeakage CryptanalysisBucketizationForward and Backward PrivacyOblivious Operations
Contact author(s)
zg13988 @ bristol ac uk
kenny paterson @ inf ethz ch
sikharpatranabis @ gmail com
csxbw @ bristol ac uk
2021-06-25: last of 3 revisions
2020-10-23: received
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      author = {Zichen Gui and Kenneth G.  Paterson and Sikhar Patranabis and Bogdan Warinschi},
      title = {SWiSSSE: System-Wide Security for Searchable Symmetric Encryption},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2020/1328},
      year = {2020},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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