The VLDB Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 25–46 | Cite as

VBTree: forward secure conjunctive queries over encrypted data for cloud computing

  • Zhiqiang WuEmail author
  • Kenli Li
Regular Paper


This paper concerns the fundamental problem of processing conjunctive keyword queries over an outsourced data table on untrusted public clouds in a privacy-preserving manner. The data table can be properly implemented with tree-based searchable symmetric encryption schemes, such as the known Keyword Red–Black tree and the Indistinguishable Bloom-filter Tree in ICDE’17. However, as for these trees, there still exist many limitations to support sub-linear time updates. One of the reasons is that their tree branches are directly exposed to the cloud. To achieve efficient conjunctive queries while supporting dynamic updates, we introduce a novel tree data structure called virtual binary tree (VBTree). Our key design is to organize indexing elements into the VBTree in a top-down fashion, without storing any tree branches and tree nodes. The tree only exists in a logical view, and all of the elements are actually stored in a hash table. To achieve forward privacy, which is discussed by Bost in CCS’16, we also propose a storage mechanism called version control repository (VCR), to record and control versions of keywords and queries. VCR has a smaller client-side storage compared to other forward-private schemes. With our proposed approach, data elements can be quickly searched while the index can be privately updated. The security of the VBTree is formally proved under the IND-CKA2 model. We test our scheme on a real e-mail dataset and a user location dataset. The testing results demonstrate its high efficiency and scalability in both searching and updating processes.


Privacy preserving Cloud computing Searchable symmetric encryption 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Information Science and Engineering, National Supercomputing Center in ChangshaHunan UniversityHunanChina

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