Demystifying Secure Computation: Familiar Abstractions for Efficient Protocols

Zahur, Samee, Computer Science - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Evans, David, Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia

Over the past few years, secure multi-party computation (MPC) has been transformed from a research tool to a practical one with numerous interesting applications in practice. MPC is a cryptographic technique that allows two or more parties to collaboratively perform a computation without revealing their own private inputs to each other (other than what can be inferred from the output result). Example uses include private auctions where all the participants keep their bids private, private aggregation of corporate-internal data for economic analysis, and private set intersection.

However, efficiency of MPC protocols have remained a persistent challenge for many applications. One particular issue that we examine in this dissertation is input-dependent memory accesses. It is difficult to efficiently access a memory location without revealing which element is being accessed, which in turn makes it very difficult to efficiently implement certain programs. This dissertation solves the problem by separately considering two different cases. First, we construct efficient circuit structures for cases where the access pattern is known to follow certain constraints, such as locality. The second case involves a new Oblivious RAM (ORAM) construction that provides general random access. The ORAM construction is slower than the specialized circuit structures, but faster than existing ORAM constructions for MPC for a large range of parameters. To help in implementing and evaluating these constructions, we also designed a new extensible programming language for MPC called Obliv-C, which we believe can be a useful contribution in its own right. We hope that these components will make it easier for programmers to write efficient MPC programs for many interesting applications.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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