Functional Encryption: New Perspectives and Lower Bounds

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Functional encryption is an emerging paradigm for public-key encryption that enables fine-grained control of access to encrypted data. In this work, we present new lower bounds and impossibility results on functional encryption, as well as new perspectives on security definitions. Our main contributions are as follows:

  • We show that functional encryption schemes that satisfy even a weak (non-adaptive) simulation-based security notion are impossible to construct in general. This is the first impossibility result that exploits unbounded collusions in an essential way. In particular, we show that there are no such functional encryption schemes for the class of weak pseudo-random functions (and more generally, for any class of incompressible functions). More quantitatively, our technique also gives us a lower bound for functional encryption schemes secure against bounded collusions. To be secure against q collusions, we show that the ciphertext in any such scheme must have size Ω(q).

    We put forth and discuss a simulation-based notion of security for functional encryption, with an unbounded simulator (called USIM). We show that this notion interpolates indistinguishability and simulation-based security notions, and is inspired by results and barriers in the zero-knowledge and multi-party computation literature.