Knowledge and Information Systems

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 1179–1207 | Cite as

Searchable encryption approaches: attacks and challenges

  • D. V. N. Siva KumarEmail author
  • P. Santhi Thilagam
Survey Paper


Searchable encryption (SE) is a cryptographic technique that allows the users to perform search over outsourced encrypted data in cloud servers while preserving the privacy of data and search query. In order to preserve privacy and security, data owners use various encryption schemes to encrypt their data and indexes. Due to the vulnerabilities in the encryption schemes adopted by SE schemes, information leakages are possible from the encrypted data. The cloud servers use various information disclosure attacks that exploit these leakages to infer plaintext information. In this paper, we analyze the existing SE approaches with respect to their security and precision goals and possible attacks on them. We also identify the root causes of these attacks and their remedies. An experimental study is also performed to investigate the susceptibility of SE schemes against attacks and countermeasures to prevent them.


Searchable encryption Information disclosure attacks Security Precision 



The authors would like to thank Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, for their support in part of the research.


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© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringNational Institute of Technology KarnatakaSurathkalIndia

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