Cloud storage services allow users to efficiently outsource their documents anytime and anywhere. Such convenience, however, leads to privacy concerns. While storage providers may not read users’ documents, attackers may possibly gain access by exploiting vulnerabilities in the storage system. Documents may also be leaked by curious administrators. A simple solution is for the user to encrypt all documents before submitting them. This method, however, makes it impossible to efficiently search for documents as they are all encrypted. To resolve this problem, we propose a multi-server searchable symmetric encryption (SSE) scheme and construct a system called the searchable data vault (SDV). A unique feature of the scheme is that it allows an encrypted document to be divided into blocks and distributed to different storage servers so that no single storage provider has a complete document. By incorporating the scheme, the SDV protects the privacy of documents while allowing for efficient private queries. It utilizes a web interface and a controller that manages user credentials, query indexes and submission of encrypted documents to cloud storage services. It is also the first system that enables a user to simultaneously outsource and privately query documents from a few cloud storage services. Our preliminary performance evaluation shows that this feature introduces acceptable computation overheads when compared to submitting documents directly to a cloud storage service.
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