Silverline: Toward Data Confidentiality in Third-party Clouds

Report ID: 
Krishna P. N. Puttaswamy, Christopher Kruegel, and Ben Y. Zhao
2010-04-01 05:00:00


By offering high availability and elastic access to resources, thirdparty cloud infrastructures such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure are revolutionizing the way today’s businesses operate. Unfortunately, taking advantage of their benefits requires businesses to accept a number of serious risks to data security. Factors such as software bugs, operator errors and external attacks can all compromise the confidentiality of sensitive data on external clouds, making them vulnerable to unauthorized access by malicious parties.

In this paper, we study and seek to improve the confidentiality of application data stored on third-party computing clouds. We propose to identify and encrypt all functionally encryptable data, sensitive data that can be encrypted without limiting the functionality of the cloud service. Such data would only be stored on the cloud in an encrypted form, accessible only to users with the correct keys, thus ensuring its confidentiality against unintentional errors and attacks alike. We describe Silverline, a set of tools that automatically 1) identify all functionally encryptable data in a cloud application, 2) assign encryption keys to specific data subsets to minimize key management complexity while ensuring robustness to key compromise, and 3) provide transparent data access at the user device while preventing key compromise even from malicious clouds. Through experiments with real applications, we find that many web applications are dominated by data sharing components that do not require access to raw data. Thus, Silverline can protect the vast majority of data on these applications, simplify key management, and protect against key compromise. Together, our techniques provide a substantial first step towards simplifying the complex process of incorporating data confidentiality into cloud applications.