Performance Evaluation of SHA-3 Final Round Candidate Algorithms on ARM Cortex–M4 Processor

Performance Evaluation of SHA-3 Final Round Candidate Algorithms on ARM Cortex–M4 Processor

Rajeev Sobti, Geetha Ganesan
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJISP.2018010106
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SHA-3 was an open competition initiated by NIST to design new generation of hash functions. This competition was a necessity to overcome the challenges imposed by multiple attacks on MDx family of hash functions including SHA-0 and SHA-1. For this competition, NIST announced a reference platform which did not cover Embedded and Mobile machines. This paper compares the performance of SHA-3 final round candidate algorithms on ARM Cortex-M4 processor (embedded processor) and presents the results. Cycles per Byte is used as performance metric. Cortex-M4 based Stellaris® LM4F232 Evaluation Board (EK-LM4F232) from Texas Instruments is used for performance evaluation.
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Cryptographic Hash Functions are crucial in implementing multiple security goals and have led their way into various security applications like: digital signatures, storing passwords, digital time stamping, constructing block ciphers, generating pseudorandom numbers, maintaining secure web connections, and encryption key management etc. Among all hash functions being used, those from SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) family covering SHA-0 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1993), SHA-1 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1995), SHA-2 {SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512} (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2002) have been the most commonly used ones. This SHA family of functions was developed by National Security Agency (NSA) and certified as Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), US Department of Commerce. All these are based on MD4 and MD5 algorithms, commonly known as MDx family of hash functions. Around year 2004 and later majority of hash functions based on MDx family (MD4, MD5, HAVAL, RIPEMD, SHA-0 and SHA-1) were attacked (Wang, Feng, Lai, & Yu, 2004) (Wang, Lai, Feng, & Chen, 2005) (Wang, Yu, & Yin, Efficient Collision Search Attacks on SHA-0, 2005) (Wang, Yin, & Yu, n. d.) (Biham & Chen, 2004) (Biham et al., 2005). Given that SHA-2 functions are in the same family and share a common heritage and design principles as the earlier broken functions, these attacks shook the long-term confidence of cryptographers in nearly all hash functions. A question that perturbed everybody’s mind was what if SHA-2 is compromised or successfully cryptanalyzed or broken and what could be its repercussions? If this proved true, the world would not be left with any option because SHA-2 was the best that we had at that time.

To handle this situation, NIST, initiated a design competition (public open competition) in November 2007 for designing next generation of hash functions (U.S. Department of Commerce, n. d.). The objective of the competition was to design a new hash standard named ‘SHA-3’ to augment current standard (SHA-2). NIST received 64 hash function submissions from over 200 cryptographers around the world. NIST also invited the public to evaluate the submissions and consequently a lot of cryptanalysis and public review were carried out. In December 2010, five algorithms (Blake, Grøstl, JH, Keccak, and Skein) advanced to the final round.

The ‘Reference Platform’ announced by NIST for SHA-3 competition consisted of general purpose machine (Windows Intel machines). Considerable domain of architectures like the ones prevalent in Smart Cards, Embedded systems, and Mobile platforms were ignored. This paper revolves around these five SHA-3 final round candidate algorithms and evaluation of their performance on architecture other than the one specified in ‘Reference Platform’ and thus in its way contribute to NIST’s public call to evaluate and compare performance of these candidate algorithms. This paper presents the performance comparison of SHA-3 finalists on ARM Cortex-M4 architecture. The choice of the target platform was a two-step decision. In the first step, the decision to go for embedded and mobile platform was directed by the recent surge in usage of these devices. In the second step, for zeroing down on ARM architecture, its market dominance and technical features were the main consideration.

Organization of the Paper

Section 2 gives the brief introduction about SHA-3 final round candidate algorithms. Section 3 presents the hardware and software tools used, and methodology adopted to carry out the evaluation of SHA-3 finalists. Results are presented in Section 4 followed by conclusion and future work in Section 5.

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