Privacy has received considerable attention but is still largely ignored in the multimedia community. Consider a cloud computing scenario where the server is resource-abundant, and is capable of finishing the designated tasks. It is envisioned that secure media applications with privacy preservation will be treated seriously. In view of the fact that scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT) has been widely adopted in various fields, this paper is the first to target the importance of privacy-preserving SIFT (PPSIFT) and to address the problem of secure SIFT feature extraction and representation in the encrypted domain. As all of the operations in SIFT must be moved to the encrypted domain, we propose a privacy-preserving realization of the SIFT method based on homomorphic encryption. We show through the security analysis based on the discrete logarithm problem and RSA that PPSIFT is secure against ciphertext only attack and known plaintext attack. Experimental results obtained from different case studies demonstrate that the proposed homomorphic encryption-based privacy-preserving SIFT performs comparably to the original SIFT and that our method is useful in SIFT-based privacy-preserving applications.