Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computer security: 'Melbourne Shuffle' secures data in the cloud

Date:
July 10, 2014
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Encryption might not be enough for all that data stored in the cloud. Usage patterns -- which files are accessed and when -- can give away secrets as well. Computer scientists have developed an algorithm to sweep away those digital footprints. They call it the Melbourne Shuffle.

Encryption might not be enough for all that data stored in the cloud. An analysis of usage patterns -- which files are accessed and when -- can give away secrets as well. Computer scientists at Brown have developed an algorithm to sweep away those digital footprints. It's a complicated series of dance-like moves they call the Melbourne Shuffle.
Credit: Tamassia Lab / Brown University

To keep data safe in the cloud, a group of computer scientists suggests doing the Melbourne Shuffle.

That may sound like a dance move (and it is), but it's also a computer algorithm developed by researchers at Brown University.

The computing version of the Melbourne Shuffle aims to hide patterns that may emerge as users access data on cloud servers. Patterns of access could provide important information about a dataset -- information that users don't necessarily want others to know -- even if the data files themselves are encrypted.

"Encrypting data is an important security measure. However, privacy leaks can occur even when accessing encrypted data," said Olga Ohrimenko, lead author of a paper describing the algorithm. "The objective of our work is to provide a higher level of privacy guarantees, beyond what encryption alone can achieve."

The paper was presented this week at the International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2014) in Copenhagen. Ohrimenko, who recently received her Ph.D. from Brown University and now works at Microsoft Research, co-authored the work with Roberto Tamassia and Eli Upfal, professors of computer science at Brown, and Michael Goodrich from the University of California-Irvine.

Cloud computing is increasing in popularity as more individuals use services like Google Drive and more companies outsource their data to companies like Amazon Web Services. As the amount of data on the cloud grows, so do concerns about keeping it secure. Most cloud service providers encrypt the data they store. Larger companies generally encrypt their own data before sending it to the cloud to protect it not only from hackers but also to keep cloud providers themselves from snooping around in it.

But while encryption renders data files unreadable, it can't hide patterns of data access. Those patterns can be a serious security issue. For example, a service provider -- or someone eavesdropping on that provider -- might be able to figure out that after accessing files at certain locations on the cloud server, a company tends to come out with a negative earnings report the following week. Eavesdroppers may have no idea what's in those particular files, but they know that it's correlated to negative earnings.

But that's not the only potential security issue.

"The pattern of accessing data could give away some information about what kind of computation we're performing or what kind of program we're running on the data," said Tamassia, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Some programs have very particular ways in which they access data. By observing those patterns, someone might be able to deduce, for example, that a company seems to be running a program that processes bankruptcy proceedings.

The Melbourne Shuffle aims to hide those patterns by shuffling the location of data on cloud servers. Ohrimenko named it after a dance that originated in Australia, where she did her undergraduate work.

"The contribution of our paper is specifically a novel data shuffling method that is provably secure and computationally more efficient than previous methods," Ohrimenko said.

It works by pulling small chunks of data down from the cloud and placing them in a user's local memory. Once the data is out of view of the server's prying eyes, it's rearranged -- shuffled like a deck of cards -- and then sent back to the cloud server. By doing this over and over with new blocks of data, the entirety of the data on the cloud is eventually shuffled.

The result is that data accessed in one spot today, may be in a different spot tomorrow. So even when a user accesses the same data over and over, that access pattern looks to the server or an eavesdropper to be essentially random.

"What we do is we obfuscate the access pattern," Tamassia said. "It becomes unfeasible for the cloud provider to figure out what the user is doing."

The researchers envision deploying their shuffle algorithm through a software application or a hardware device that users keep at their location. It could also be deployed in the form of a tamper-proof chip controlled by the user and installed at the data center of the cloud provider.

However it's deployed, the approach has the promise of lowering the cost of strong data security in an increasingly cloudy computer world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Computer security: 'Melbourne Shuffle' secures data in the cloud." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710111902.htm>.
Brown University. (2014, July 10). Computer security: 'Melbourne Shuffle' secures data in the cloud. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710111902.htm
Brown University. "Computer security: 'Melbourne Shuffle' secures data in the cloud." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710111902.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hackerspace Provides Hackers Creative Haven

Hackerspace Provides Hackers Creative Haven

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) HeatSync Labs, a so-called hackerspace in Mesa, Arizona provides members and the public alike a space to allow their creative juices to flow and make their tech dreams into a reality. (Aug 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Instagram's Hyperlapse Brings Pricy Stabilization To Phones

Instagram's Hyperlapse Brings Pricy Stabilization To Phones

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Instagram announced a new video stabilization app called Hyperlapse on Tuesday, bringing a high-end filming technique to peoples' iPhones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) The Intercept published an article Monday profiling what the online publication called NSA's very own Google of personal data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins