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Towards Practical Access Control and Usage Control on the Cloud using Trusted Hardware

Djoko Takougue, Judicael Briand (2020) Towards Practical Access Control and Usage Control on the Cloud using Trusted Hardware. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Cloud-based platforms have become the principle way to store, share, and synchronize files online. For individuals and organizations alike, cloud storage not only provides resource scalability and on-demand access at a low cost, but also eliminates the necessity of provisioning and maintaining complex hardware installations.

Unfortunately, because cloud-based platforms are frequent victims of data breaches and unauthorized disclosures, data protection obliges both access control and usage control to manage user authorization and regulate future data use. Encryption can ensure data security against unauthorized parties, but complicates file sharing which now requires distributing keys to authorized users, and a mechanism that prevents revoked users from accessing or modifying sensitive content. Further, as user data is stored and processed on remote ma- chines, usage control in a distributed setting requires incorporating the local environmental context at policy evaluation, as well as tamper-proof and non-bypassable enforcement. Existing cryptographic solutions either require server-side coordination, offer limited flexibility in data sharing, or incur significant re-encryption overheads on user revocation. This combination of issues are ill-suited within large-scale distributed environments where there are a large number of users, dynamic changes in user membership and access privileges, and resources are shared across organizational domains. Thus, developing a robust security and privacy solution for the cloud requires: fine-grained access control to associate the largest set of users and resources with variable granularity, scalable administration costs when managing policies and access rights, and cross-domain policy enforcement.

To address the above challenges, this dissertation proposes a practical security solution that relies solely on commodity trusted hardware to ensure confidentiality and integrity throughout the data lifecycle. The aim is to maintain complete user ownership against external hackers and malicious service providers, without losing the scalability or availability benefits of cloud storage. Furthermore, we develop a principled approach that is: (i) portable across storage platforms without requiring any server-side support or modifications, (ii) flexible in allowing users to selectively share their data using fine-grained access control, and (iii) performant by imposing modest overheads on standard user workloads. Essentially, our system must be client-side, provide end-to-end data protection and secure sharing, without significant degradation in performance or user experience.

We introduce NeXUS, a privacy-preserving filesystem that enables cryptographic protection and secure file sharing on existing network-based storage services. NeXUS protects the confidentiality and integrity of file content, as well as file and directory names, while mitigating against rollback attacks of the filesystem hierarchy. We also introduce Joplin, a secure access control and usage control system that provides practical attribute-based sharing with decentralized policy administration, including efficient revocation, multi-domain policies, secure user delegation, and mandatory audit logging. Both systems leverage trusted hardware to prevent the leakage of sensitive material such as encryption keys and access control policies; they are completely client-side, easy to install and use, and can be readily deployed across remote storage platforms without requiring any server-side changes or trusted intermediary. We developed prototypes for NeXUS and Joplin, and evaluated their respective overheads in isolation and within a real-world environment. Results show that both prototypes introduce modest overheads on interactive workloads, and achieve portability across storage platforms, including Dropbox and AFS. Together, NeXUS and Joplin demonstrate that a client-side solution employing trusted hardware such as Intel SGX can effectively protect remotely stored data on existing file sharing services.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Djoko Takougue, Judicael Briandjud27@pitt.edujud27
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Date: 5 June 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 November 2019
Approval Date: 5 June 2020
Submission Date: 23 March 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 125
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Computing and Information > Computer Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: access control client-side cloud filesharing cryptography trusted hardware usage control
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2020 21:18
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2020 21:18

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