New paper accepted at AsiaCCS 2022 'DPaSE: Distributed Password-Authenticated Symmetric-Key Encryption, or How to Get Many Keys from One Password

by Poulami Das, Julia Hesse, Anja Lehmann


Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular among end users that outsource their personal data to services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. For security, uploaded data should ideally be encrypted under a key that is controlled and only known by the user. Current solutions that support user-centric encryption either require the user to manage strong cryptographic keys, or derive keys from weak passwords. While the former has massive usability issues and requires secure storage by the user, the latter approach is more convenient but offers only little security since encrypted data is susceptible to offline attacks. The recent concept of password-authenticated secret-sharing (PASS) enables users to securely derive strong keys from weak passwords by leveraging a distributed server setup, and has been considered a promising step towards secure and usable encryption. However, using PASS for encryption is not as suitable as originally thought: it only considers the (re)construction of a single, static key -- whereas practical encryption will require the management of many, object-specific keys. Using a dedicated PASS instance for every key makes the solution vulnerable against online attacks, inherently leaks access patterns to the servers and poses the risk of permanent data loss when an incorrect password is used at encryption. We therefore propose a new protocol that directly targets the problem of boostrapping encryption from a single password: distributed password-authenticated symmetric key encryption DPaSE.

DPaSE offers strong security and usability, such as protecting the user's password against online and offline attacks, and ensuring message privacy and ciphertext integrity as long as at least one server is honest. We formally define the desired security properties in the UC framework and propose a provably secure instantiation. The core of our protocol is a new type of OPRF that allows to extend a previous partially-blind query with a follow-up request and will be used to blindly carry over passwords across evaluations and avoid online attacks. Our (proof-of-concept) implementation of DPaSE uses 10 exponentiations at the user, 4 exponentiations and 2 pairings at each server, and has a server throughput of 76 account creations and 37 (user authentication followed by) encryptions per second, when run between a user and 2-10 servers.