Feeds

Spooks vs boffins: MIT bods say they've created PRISM-proof encryption

Data's encrypted in your browser before it even gets to the server

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The cleverest clogs of MIT have squared up to the NSA after claiming to have developed a PRISM-proof encryption system.

Dubbed Mylar, the spook-bane allows devs to build web applications which are protected from attackers, even if they have access to the server that stores the software.

Its creators were upset that anyone who had access to a server, be they "an attacker, a curious administrator, or a government", were able to run riot through the data stored on there.

“You don’t notice any difference, but your data gets encrypted using your password inside your browser before it goes to the server,” said Raluca Popa, the MIT researcher who designed Mylar. “If the government asks the company for your data, the server doesn’t have the ability to give unencrypted data.”

Mylar sits atop the web service building tool Meteor and only decrypts data once it is viewed in trusted users' browsers.

According to an abstract of a paper on Mylar, which will be presented at the NSDI conference next week, Mylar allows the server to perform keyword searches of encrypted documents, even if the data is all encrypted using different keys.

Keys and data can also be shared securely, even if an "active adversary" is getting busy in the servers.

The Mylar system is very efficient, it creators claimed, requiring only a few lines of extra code.

The abstract said:

First, Mylar allows the server to perform keyword search over encrypted documents, even if the documents are encrypted with different keys. Second, Mylar allows users to share keys and encrypted data securely in the presence of an active adversary. Finally, Mylar ensures that client-side application code is authentic, even if the server is malicious. Results with a prototype of Mylar built on top of the Meteor framework are promising: porting 6 applications required changing just 36 lines of code on average, and the performance overheads are modest, amounting to a 17% throughput loss and a 50 ms latency increase for sending a message in a chat application.

Although El Reg wouldn't bet on the nerds of MIT in a straight fight against spooks, it's nice to see they are trying. So who do you think will win in this battle of the boffins? ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.