Seny Kamara

Researcher, Microsoft Research

twitter: @senykam
pub key: B80B 84AC 9C5D 174D

I am a Researcher in the Cryptography Group at Microsoft Research (Redmond Lab). My research is focused on designing and analyzing cryptographic algorithms, protocols and systems; often motivated by privacy issues in cloud computing, surveillance and databases. I maintain interests in various aspects of theory and systems, including algorithms, economics, policy and networking.

Much of my work has revolved around the problem of encrypted search and, in particular, on the design and analysis of structured encryption schemes; that is, encryption schemes that support efficient searching on encrypted data. Structured encryption has applications to the way we store and process data, and can enable the design of systems that are both privacy-enhancing and usable. A long-term goal of this area is to fundamentally change the way we design systems for web mail, hosted mail, cloud storage, electronic medical records and databases, just to name a few examples.

For an introduction to encrypted search and to structured encryption see this survey (pdf), this series of blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and this tutorial (pdf).


We are exploring how national security and privacy can be reconciled through the use of advanced cryptography. In [1] we show how to design a privacy-preserving alternative to the NSA metadata program. For a high-level overview of the project see these slides and this blog post.

The MetaCrypt project has been covered by MIT Tech Review.

Encrypted search

Our goal is to design methods to efficiently search on encrypted data. In [2], we constructed the first practical searchable symmetric encryption (SSE) schemes. We also introduced what are now the standard notions of security for encrypted search. In [3], we designed the first practical dynamic SSE scheme (i.e., that supports updates). In [4], we constructed the first practical SSE scheme with parallel search. In [5] we introduced the notion of structured encryption and, in particular, of graph encryption. In [5, 6] we showed how to search/query encrypted matrices, graphs, and web graphs. In [7], we showed how to search over encrypted data using MapReduce/Hadoop.

For an introduction to the problem of encrypted search and to structured encryption see this survey (pdf), this series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and this set of slides (pdf). Some of our work has been covered by MIT Tech Review [8, 9] and Communications of the ACM [10].

Cloud storage systems

Our objective is to build secure cloud storage systems without sacrificing efficiency and utility. In particular, our systems provide integrity and verifiability while supporting various forms of search on encrypted data. The details of our architecture can be found in [11]. Our work on the underlying cryptographic primitives is described in various works, including [2, 3, 4] on searchable encryption, [12] on proofs of storage and [5, 6] on structured encryption.

Secure multi-party computation

We are exploring the extent to which cloud computing can improve the practicality and scalability of secure multi-party computation by considering a setting where parties can outsource their work to an untrusted cloud provider. Our initial work on this model can be found in [13]. More efficient protocols and experimental results appear in [14].

Recent Publications (full list)

Recent Talks & Lectures (full list)

Program (co-)chair:

  • ACM Cloud Computing Security Workshop (CCSW '12)
  • Workshop on Surveillance and Technology (SAT '15)
Events (co-)organized: Invited speaker:

I have worked with the following outstanding group of students:

If you are interested in an internship in the Crypto Group, please read the following post (blog) and send me or any other group member an email.

Program committees:
  • Crypto and Network Security (CANS '09, '10, '12, '13)
  • Selected Areas in Cryptography (SAC '11)
  • Applied Cryptography & Network Security (ACNS '09, '11)
  • Stabilization, Safety, and Security of Distributed Systems (SSS '10)
  • Practice and Theory in Public-key Cryptography (PKC '09)

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