Secure attribute-based systems

Matthew Pirretti, Patrick Traynor, Patrick McDaniel, Brent Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Attributes define, classify, or annotate the datum to which they are assigned. However, traditional attribute architectures and cryptosystems are ill-equipped to provide security in the face of diverse access requirements and environments. In this paper, we introduce a novel secure information management architecture based on emerging attribute-based encryption (ABE) primitives. A policy system that meets the needs of complex policies is defined and illustrated. Based on the needs of those policies, we propose cryptographic optimizations that vastly improve enforcement efficiency. We further explore the use of such policies in two proposed applications: a HIPAA compliant distributed file system and a social network. A performance analysis and characterization of ABE primitives demonstrates the ability to reduce cryptographic costs by as much as 98% over previously proposed constructions. Through this, we demonstrate that our attribute system is an efficient solution for securely managing information in large, loosely-coupled, distributed systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-837
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Computer Security
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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