Frederik Armknecht
Andreas Dewald
Michael Gruhn (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Abstract

In many digital forensic investigations, email data needs to be analyzed. However, this poses a threat to the privacy of the individual whose emails are being examined and in particular becomes a problem if the investigation clashes with privacy laws. This is commonly addressed by allowing the investigator to run keyword searches and to reveal only those emails that contain at least some of the keywords. While this could be realized with standard cryptographic techniques, further requirements are present that call for novel solutions: (i) for investigation-tactical reasons the investigator should be able to keep the search terms secret and (ii) for efficiency reasons no regular interaction should be required between the investigator and the data owner. We close this gap by introducing a novel cryptographic scheme that allows to encrypt entire email boxes before handing them over for investigation. The key feature is that the investigator can non-interactively run keyword searches on the encrypted data and decrypt those emails (and only those) for which a configurable number of matches occurred. Our implementation as a plug-in for a standard forensic framework confirms the practical applicability of the approach. © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of DFRWS. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-NDlicense (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).