28 May 2013 Breaking down the barriers of using strong authentication and encryption in resource constrained embedded systems
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Abstract
Various embedded systems, such as unattended ground sensors (UGS), are deployed in dangerous areas, where they are subject to compromise. Since numerous systems contain a network of devices that communicate with each other (often times with commercial off the shelf [COTS] radios), an adversary is able to intercept messages between system devices, which jeopardizes sensitive information transmitted by the system (e.g. location of system devices). Secret key algorithms such as AES are a very common means to encrypt all system messages to a sufficient security level, for which lightweight implementations exist for even very resource constrained devices. However, all system devices must use the appropriate key to encrypt and decrypt messages from each other. While traditional public key algorithms (PKAs), such as RSA and Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), provide a sufficiently secure means to provide authentication and a means to exchange keys, these traditional PKAs are not suitable for very resource constrained embedded systems or systems which contain low reliability communication links (e.g. mesh networks), especially as the size of the network increases. Therefore, most UGS and other embedded systems resort to pre-placed keys (PPKs) or other naïve schemes which greatly reduce the security and effectiveness of the overall cryptographic approach. McQ has teamed with the Cryptographic Engineering Research Group (CERG) at George Mason University (GMU) to develop an approach using revolutionary cryptographic techniques that provides both authentication and encryption, but on resource constrained embedded devices, without the burden of large amounts of key distribution or storage.
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Ron Knobler, Peter Scheffel, Scott Jackson, Kris Gaj, Jens Peter Kaps, "Breaking down the barriers of using strong authentication and encryption in resource constrained embedded systems", Proc. SPIE 8755, Mobile Multimedia/Image Processing, Security, and Applications 2013, 875510 (28 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2015434; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2015434
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