Research Output
Embedded document security using sticky policies and identity based encryption
  Data sharing domains have expanded over several, both trusted and insecure environments. At the same time, the data security boundaries have shrunk from internal network perimeters down to a single identity and a piece of information. Since new EU GDPR regulations, the personally identifiable information sharing requires data governance in favour of a data subject. Existing enterprise grade IRM solutions fail to follow open standards and lack of data sharing frameworks that could efficiently integrate with existing identity management and authentication infrastructures. IRM services that stood against cloud demands often offer a very limited access control functionality allowing an individual to store a document online giving a read or read-write permission to other individual identified by email address. Unfortunately, such limited information sharing controls are often introduced as the only safeguards in large enterprises, healthcare institutions and other organizations that should provide the highest possible personal data protection standards.

The IRM suffers from a systems architecture vulnerability where IRM application installed on a semi-trusted client truly only guarantees none or full access enforcement. Since no single authority is contacted to verify each committed change the adversary having an advantage of possessing data-encrypting and key-encrypting keys could change and re-encrypt the amended content despite that read only access has been granted. Finally, the two evaluated IRM products, have either the algorithm security lifecycle (ASL) relatively short to protect the shared data, or the solution construct highly restrained secure key-encrypting key distribution and exposes a symmetric data-encrypting key over the network. Presented here sticky policy with identity-based encryption (SPIBE) solution was designed for secure cloud data sharing. SPIBE challenges are to deliver simple standardized construct that would easily integrate with popular OOXML-like document formats and provide simple access rights enforcement over protected content. It leverages a sticky policy construct using XACML access policy language to express access conditions across different cloud data sharing boundaries. XACML is a cloud-ready standard designed for a global multi-jurisdictional use. Unlike other raw ABAC implementations, the XACML offers a standardised schema and authorisation protocols hence it simplifies interoperability. The IBE is a cryptographic scheme protecting the shared document using an identified policy as an asymmetric key-encrypting a symmetric data-encrypting key. Unlike ciphertext-policy attribute-based access control (CP-ABE), the SPIBE policy contains not only access preferences but global document identifier and unique version identifier what makes each policy uniquely identifiable in relation to the protected document. In IBE scheme the public key-encrypting key is known and could be shared between the parties although the data-encrypting key is never sent over the network. Finally, the SPIBE as a framework should have a potential to protect data in case of new threats where ASL of a used cryptographic primitive is too short, when algorithm should be replaced with a new updated cryptographic primitive. The IBE like a cryptographic protocol could be implemented with different cryptographic primitives. The identity-based encryption over isogenous pairing groups (IBE-IPG) is a post-quantum ready construct that leverages the initial IBE Boneh-Franklin (IBE-BF) approach. Existing IBE implementations could be updated to IBE-IPG without major system amendments. Finally, by applying the one document versioning blockchain-like construct could verify changes authenticity and approve only legitimate document updates, where other IRM solutions fail to operate delivering the one single authority for non-repudiation and authenticity assurance.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    04 July 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    005.8 Data security

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Spyra, G. K. Embedded document security using sticky policies and identity based encryption. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



data security; encryption; document security; data sharing; authentication

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