Auditing the changes to a database is critical for identifying malicious behavior, maintaining data quality, and improving system performance. But an accurate audit log is an historical record of the past that can also pose a serious threat to privacy. Policies that limit data retention conflict with the goal of accurate auditing, and data owners have to carefully balance the need for policy compliance with the goal of accurate auditing. In this paper, we provide a framework for auditing the changes to a database system while respecting data retention policies. Our framework includes an historical data model that supports flexible audit queries, along with a language for retention policies that can hide individual attribute values or remove entire tuples from the history. Under retention policies, the audit history is partially incomplete. Thus, audit queries on the protected history can include imprecise results. We propose two different models (a tuple-independent model and a tuple-correlated model) for formalizing the meaning of audit queries. We implement policy application and query answering efficiently in a standard relational system and characterize the cases where accurate auditing can be achieved under retention restrictions.
The VLDB Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 2013
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