Performing information retrieval tasks while preserving data confidentiality is a desirable capability when a database is stored on a server maintained by a third-party service provider. This paper addresses the problem of enabling content-based retrieval over encrypted multimedia databases. Search indexes, along with multimedia documents, are first encrypted by the content owner and then stored onto the server. Through jointly applying cryptographic techniques, such as order preserving encryption and randomized hash functions, with image processing and information retrieval techniques, secure indexing schemes are designed to provide both privacy protection and rank-ordered search capability. Retrieval results on an encrypted color image database and security analysis of the secure indexing schemes under different attack models show that data confidentiality can be preserved while retaining very good retrieval performance. This work has promising applications in secure multimedia management.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.