IAS / School of Engineering Joint Lecture

Towards Practical, Scalable and Private Management of Cloud Data


Due to the widespread use of cloud applications, searching for data from cloud servers is ubiquitous. However, accessing data stored in a cloud server comes with severe privacy concerns owing to numerous attacks and data breaches. Much research has focused on preserving the privacy of data stored in the cloud using various advanced cryptographic techniques. The goal of this talk is to demonstrate how private access of data can become a practical reality in the near future. The speaker’s focus is on supporting oblivious queries and thus hide any associated access patterns on both private and public data.  

For private data, ORAM (Oblivious RAM) is one of the most popular approaches for supporting oblivious access to encrypted data. However, most existing ORAM datastores are not fault-tolerant and hence an application may lose all of its data when failures occur.  To achieve fault tolerance, the speaker proposes QuORAM, the first datastore to provide oblivious access and fault-tolerant data storage using a quorum-based replication protocol.

For public data, PIR (Private Information Retrieval) is the main mechanism proposed in recent years. However, current PIR proposals are inefficient, especially with large data sets and require the server to consider data as an array of elements and clients retrieve data using an index into the array. This latter restriction limits the use of PIR in many practical settings, especially for key-value stores, where the client may be interested in a particular key, but does not know the exact location of the data at the server. In this talk the speaker will discuss recent efforts to overcome these limitations, using Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE), to improve the performance, scalability and expressiveness of privacy-preserving queries on public data.


About the Speaker

Prof. Amr El ABBADI is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He received his B.Eng. from Alexandria University, Egypt, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. His research interests are in the fields of fault-tolerant distributed systems and databases, focusing recently on Cloud data management, blockchain based systems and privacy concerns. Prof. Abbadi is an ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow, and IEEE Fellow. He was Chair of the Computer Science Department at UCSB from 2007 to 2011, and he also served as Associate Graduate Dean from 2021 to 2023. He has served as a journal editor for several database journals, including, The VLDB Journal, IEEE Transactions on Computers and The Computer Journal. He has been Program Chair for multiple database and distributed systems conferences, including most recently SIGMOD 2022. He currently serves on the executive committee of the IEEE Technical Committee on Data Engineering (TCDE) and was a board member of the VLDB Endowment from 2002 to 2008. In 2007, Prof. Abbadi received the UCSB Senate Outstanding Mentorship Award for his excellence in mentoring graduate students. In 2013, his student, Sudipto DAS received the SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award. Prof. El Abbadi is also a co-recipient of the Test of Time Award at EDBT/ICDT 2015. He has published over 350 articles in databases and distributed systems and has supervised over 40 PhD students.


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