Worcester Polytechnic Institute Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection

Title page for ETD etd-050406-152129

Document Typedissertation
Author NameKaps, Jens-Peter E
TitleCryptography for Ultra-Low Power Devices
DepartmentElectrical & Computer Engineering
  • Berk Sunar, Advisor
  • Wayne Burleson, Committee Member
  • John McNeill, Committee Member
  • Wenjing Lou, Committee Member
  • Keywords
  • rfid
  • wireless sensor networks
  • low energy
  • low power
  • cryptography
  • Date of Presentation/Defense2006-05-01
    Availability unrestricted


    Ubiquitous computing describes the notion that computing devices will be everywhere: clothing, walls and floors of buildings, cars, forests, deserts, etc. Ubiquitous computing is becoming a reality: RFIDs are currently being introduced into the supply chain. Wireless distributed sensor networks (WSN) are already being used to monitor wildlife and to track military targets. Many more applications are being envisioned. For most of these applications some level of security is of utmost importance. Common to WSN and RFIDs are their severely limited power resources, which classify them as ultra-low power devices.

    Early sensor nodes used simple 8-bit microprocessors to implement basic communication, sensing and computing services. Security was an afterthought. The main power consumer is the RF-transceiver, or radio for short. In the past years specialized hardware for low-data rate and low-power radios has been developed. The new bottleneck are security services which employ computationally intensive cryptographic operations. Customized hardware implementations hold the promise of enabling security for severely power constrained devices.

    Most research groups are concerned with developing secure wireless communication protocols, others with designing efficient software implementations of cryptographic algorithms. There has not been a comprehensive study on hardware implementations of cryptographic algorithms tailored for ultra-low power applications. The goal of this dissertation is to develop a suite of cryptographic functions for authentication, encryption and integrity that is specifically fashioned to the needs of ultra-low power devices.

    This dissertation gives an introduction to the specific problems that security engineers face when they try to solve the seemingly contradictory challenge of providing lightweight cryptographic services that can perform on ultra-low power devices and shows an overview of our current work and its future direction.

  • kaps.pdf

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