Geospatial data sets often contain sensitive information, for example, about urban infrastructures. Since clouds are usually provided by third parties, this data needs to be protected. In our paper entitled Dynamic searchable symmetric encryption for storing geospatial data in the cloud, we present an encryption scheme allowing users to encrypt their data in the cloud and make it searchable at the same time. The paper has just been published to the International Journal of Information Security by Springer.
Compared to other static encryption methods, our approach to searchable symmetric encryption (SSE) does not require an initialization phase. This enables users to dynamically add new data and remove existing records. In the paper, we design multiple protocols differing in their level of security and performance, respectively. All of them support queries containing boolean expressions, as well as geospatial queries based on bounding boxes, for example.
Our findings indicate that although the search in encrypted data requires more runtime than in unencrypted data, our approach is still suitable for real-world applications. We focus on geospatial data storage but our approach can also be applied to applications from other areas dealing with keyword-based searches in encrypted data. We conclude the paper with a discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of our approach.