Surplus and Scarce Energy: Designing and Optimizing Security for Energy Harvested Internet of Things

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Virginia Tech

Internet of Things require a continuous power supply for longevity and energy harvesting from ambient sources enable sustainable operation of such embedded devices. Using selfpowered power supply gives raise two scenarios, where there is surplus or scarce harvested energy. In situations where the harvester is capable of harvesting beyond its storage capacity, the surplus energy is wasted. In situations where the harvester does not have sufficient resources, the sparse harvested energy can only transiently power the device. Transiently powered devices, referred to as intermittent computing devices, ensure forward progress by storing checkpoints of the device state at regular intervals. Irrespective of the availability of energy, the device should have adequate security.

This thesis addresses the security of energy harvested embedded devices in both energy scenarios. First, we propose precomputation, an optimization technique, that utilizes the surplus energy. We study two cryptographic applications, namely bulk encryption and true random number generation, and we show that precomputing improves energy efficiency and algorithm latency in both applications. Second, we analyze the security pitfalls in transiently powered devices. To secure transiently powered devices, we propose the Secure Intermittent Computing Protocol. The protocol provides continuity to underlying application, atomicity to protocol operations and detects replay and tampering of checkpoints. Both the proposals together provide comprehensive security to self-powered embedded devices.

Embedded systems, Internet of Things, Security, Precomputing, Intermittent computing