SoK: Cryptographic Confidentiality of Data on Mobile Devices

Authors: Maximilian Zinkus (Johns Hopkins University), Tushar M. Jois (Johns Hopkins University, {jois), Matthew Green (Johns Hopkins University, {jois)

Volume: 2022
Issue: 1
Pages: 586–607
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/popets-2022-0029

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Abstract: Mobile devices have become an indispensable component of modern life. Their high storage capacity gives these devices the capability to store vast amounts of sensitive personal data, which makes them a highvalue target: these devices are routinely stolen by criminals for data theft, and are increasingly viewed by law enforcement agencies as a valuable source of forensic data. Over the past several years, providers have deployed a number of advanced cryptographic features intended to protect data on mobile devices, even in the strong setting where an attacker has physical access to a device. Many of these techniques draw from the research literature, but have been adapted to this entirely new problem setting. This involves a number of novel challenges, which are incompletely addressed in the literature. In this work, we outline those challenges, and systematize the known approaches to securing user data against extraction attacks. Our work proposes a methodology that researchers can use to analyze cryptographic data confidentiality for mobile devices. We evaluate the existing literature for securing devices against data extraction adversaries with powerful capabilities including access to devices and to the cloud services they rely on. We then analyze existing mobile device confidentiality measures to identify research areas that have not received proper attention from the community and represent opportunities for future research.

Keywords: personal data, cryptography, mobile, cloud

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