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Master Thesis: Policy Authoring in Attribute-based Encryption: Designing a Usable and User-centric Interface


Policy Authoring in Attribute-based Encryption: Designing a Usable and User-centric Interface



In recent years, end users extensively use cloud storage services that store personal information and data making these accessible independent of the used device and its location. For the protection of this data from external unauthorized access, cloud service provider offer limited access control capabilities that often appear complex to a wide range of end users. Moreover, the use of a cloud storage service implies an exposure of the data in question to the cloud service provider. End users solely rely on trust towards these third parties regarding the protection of their private information and files. This circumstance leads to the exclusion of business domains, that handle sensitive data of customers, from the application of cloud services of semi trusted third parties. Computer science in general offers two fundamental technologies for data protection, namely encryption and access control. Attribute-based Encryption (ABE) is an encryption scheme that unites both technologies by enabling end users to specify an access policy that is embedded into the ciphertext. However, the concept of ABE requires extra effort from the end users that can overexert these. Therefore, this thesis conducts a user study on the desires and expectations of end users in the healthcare sector in respect to ABE. The results of this user study are used to develop application scenarios that serve as base for a system design and the implementation of a prototype. The developed prototype is then evaluated for its usability and performance. The evaluation results indicate that, despite having minor usability flaws, the main concept of the prototype lowers the barriers to entry the application of encryption technologies.

Supervisor: Dirk Thatmann, Tobias Hirsch

Type:  Master Thesis

Duration: 6 months

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