Secure and Efficient Systems for Integrated Compression and Encryption (NSERC-SPG 2016-2018)


As cloud computing and mobile computing continue to become more widely adopted, there is an ever increasing demand for efficient transmission and storage of data. Compression is widely used in Internet-based information systems to satisfy these demands. At the same time, as our daily lives become ever more reliant upon this digital infrastructure, protecting the security and privacy of data becomes a pervasive necessity. Even when a system is built from secure cryptographic algorithms, the protection provided by these algorithms can be compromised at the system level when pre- or post-processing operations, such as compression, are used in conjunction with encryption and authentication. The two recent attacks CRIME and BREACH demonstrated that conventional techniques for combining compression and encryption are susceptible to "compression side-channel" attacks. The only effective remedy is to disable compression for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) and HTTPS communication, which almost 90 percent of web sites have done. There is also growing momentum to use encryption for almost all Internet connections. The combination of these forces extracts an opportunity cost in transmission time and bandwidth consumption. This research will address these challenges by creating a new paradigm of security mechanisms for securely combining compression and encryption/authentication operations that will minimize compression side channel leakage and be optimized for efficient implementation in hardware. The research will have three thrusts: a) new security measures and algorithms that integrate compression and encryption; b) optimized hardware implementations of these algorithms; c) tools for the design, optimization, and analysis of these systems. The research results will benefit everyone from consumers using mobile phones for financial transaction to companies using cloud-computing networks for massive databases.

Research topics

In this project, we treat encryption and authentication as one general operator, denoted as EncA. The goal of the project is to explore how EncA can be pre- or post-processed with compression where compression side channel leakage is minimized, termed as crypto-compression, and how it can be implemented in hardware with optimization in terms of power, performance, and area. The proposed research has three thrusts:

  • fundamental limits, trade-offs and algorithms that integrate compression and encryption
  • optimized hardware implementations of the algorithms
  • tools for the design, optimization, security analysis, and functional verification of these systems
Last updated: July 09, 2019

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