Attribute-Based Encryption for Fine-Grained Access Control over Sensitive Data

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Description

The traditional access control system suffers from the problem of separation of data ownership and management. It poses data security issues in application scenarios such as cloud computing and blockchain

The traditional access control system suffers from the problem of separation of data ownership and management. It poses data security issues in application scenarios such as cloud computing and blockchain where the data owners either do not trust the data storage provider or even do not know who would have access to their data once they are appended to the chain. In these scenarios, the data owner actually loses control of the data once they are uploaded to the outside storage. Encryption-before-uploading is the way to solve this issue, however traditional encryption schemes such as AES, RSA, ECC, bring about great overheads in key management on the data owner end and could not provide fine-grained access control as well.

Attribute-Based Encryption (ABE) is a cryptographic way to implement attribute-based access control, which is a fine-grained access control model, thus solving all aforementioned issues. With ABE, the data owner would encrypt the data by a self-defined access control policy before uploading the data. The access control policy is an AND-OR boolean formula over attributes. Only users with attributes that satisfy the access control policy could decrypt the ciphertext. However the existing ABE schemes do not provide some important features in practical applications, e.g., user revocation and attribute expiration. Furthermore, most existing work focus on how to use ABE to protect cloud stored data, while not the blockchain applications.

The main objective of this thesis is to provide solutions to add two important features of the ABE schemes, i.e., user revocation and attribute expiration, and also provide a practical trust framework for using ABE to protect blockchain data. To add the feature of user revocation, I propose to add user's hierarchical identity into the private attribute key. In this way, only users whose identity is not revoked and attributes satisfy the access control policy could decrypt the ciphertext. To add the feature of attribute expiration, I propose to add the attribute valid time period into the private attribute key. The data would be encrypted by access control policy where all attributes have a temporal value. In this way, only users whose attributes both satisfy the access policy and at the same time these attributes do not expire,

are allowed to decrypt the ciphertext. To use ABE in the blockchain applications, I propose an ABE-enabled trust framework in a very popular blockchain platform, Hyperledger Fabric. Based on the design, I implement a light-weight attribute certificate authority for attribute distribution and validation; I implement the proposed ABE schemes and provide a toolkit which supports system setup, key generation,

data encryption and data decryption. All these modules were integrated into a demo system for protecting sensitive les in a blockchain application.