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Energy-harvested Lightweight Cryptosystems
Mane, Deepak Hanamant
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The Internet of Things will include many resource-constrained lightweight wireless sensing devices, hungry for energy, bandwidth and compute cycles. The sheer amount of devices involved will require new solutions to handle issues such as identification and power provisioning. First, to simplify identity management, device identification is moving from symmetric-key solutions to public-key solutions. Second, to avoid the endless swapping of batteries, passively-powered energy harvesting solutions are preferred. In this contribution, we analyze some of the feasible solutions from this challenging design space. We have built an autonomous, energy-harvesting sensor node which includes a micro-controller, RF-unit, and energy harvester. We use it to analyze the computation and communication energy requirements for Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) with different security levels. The implementation of Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) on small microcontrollers is challenging. Most of the earlier literature has considered optimizing the performance of ECC (with respect to cycle count and software footprint) on a given architecture. This thesis addresses a different aspect of the resource-constrained ECC implementation wherein the most suitable architecture parameters are identified for any given application profile. At the high level, an application profile for an ECC-based lightweight device, such as wireless sensor node or RFID tag, is defined by the required security level, signature generation latency and the available energy/power budget. The target architecture parameters of interest include core-voltage, core-frequency, and/or the need for hardware acceleration. We present a methodology to derive and optimize the architecture parameters starting from the application requirements. We demonstrate our methodology on a MSP430F5438A microcontroller, and present the energy/architecture design space for 80-bit and 128-bit security-levels, for prime field curves secp160r1 and nistp256. Our results show that energy cost per authentication is minimized if a microcontroller is operated at the maximum possible frequency. This is because the energy consumed by leakage (i.e., static power dissipation) becomes proportionally less important as the runtime of the application decreases. Hence, in a given energy harvesting method, it is always better to wait as long as possible before initiating ECC computations which are completed at the highest frequency when sufficient energy is available.
- Masters Theses