One embodiment provides a system that facilitates routable prefix queries in a CCN. During operation, the system generates, by a client computing device, a query for one or more indices based on a name for an interest, wherein a name is a hierarchically structured variable length identifier that includes contiguous name components ordered from a most general level to a most specific level. An index indicates a number of the contiguous name components beginning from the most general level that represent a routable prefix needed to route the interest to a content producing device that can satisfy the interest. In response to the query, the system receives the one or more indices, which allows the client computing device to determine a remaining number of name components of the interest name which can be encrypted, thereby facilitating protection of private communication in a content centric network.
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