The Edge of Developed Practice in Searching Encrypted Data

Note: Presentation times are in Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 - 2:10 pm2:40 pm

Kenn White, MongoDB


After 20+ years of academic research in cryptography, it is now possible—and practical—to search fully encrypted data. But the demands of high-performance distributed systems present unique challenges unaddressed by most research models of encrypted search, particularly for running rich, expressive queries. This talk will break down the major milestones along the journey from academia to the modern day developer ecosystem. We describe a technique called Structured Encryption which addresses the problem of encrypting structured data in such a way that it can be efficiently and privately queried. We will unpack common misconceptions in the security community around private search, touching briefly on several current approaches, with the balance of the talk focused on an implementation of Structured Encryption and lessons learned from recent work to open source and natively integrate the capability into one of the most widely used databases in the world.

Kenn White, MongoDB

Kenneth White is a security engineer whose work focuses on networks and global systems. He is co-founder and Director of the Open Crypto Audit Project and led formal security reviews on TrueCrypt and OpenSSL and is a member of the Black Hat Review Board. He currently leads applied encryption engineering in MongoDB's global product group. He has directed R&D and security Ops in organizations ranging from startups to nonprofits to defense agencies to the Fortune 50. His work on applied signal analysis has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He created software powering the largest clinical trial & cardiac safety research networks in the world. His work on network security and forensics has been cited by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Wired, and the BBC. He is @kennwhite where he tweets about trust, dogs, biscuits, and really good curries.
@conference {285603,
author = {Kenn White},
title = {The Edge of Developed Practice in Searching Encrypted Data},
year = {2023},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan,