Securing Embedded Computing Systems through Elliptic Curve Cryptography

Securing Embedded Computing Systems through Elliptic Curve Cryptography

Elisavet Konstantinou (University of the Aegean, Greece), Panayotis E. Nastou (University of the Aegean, Greece), Yannis C. Stamatiou (University of Patras, Greece) and Christos Zaroliagis (University of Patras, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3922-5.ch020


Embedded computing devices dominate our everyday activities, from cell phones to wireless sensors that collect and process data for various applications. Although desktop and high-end server security seems to be under control by the use of current security technology, securing the low-end embedded computing systems is a difficult long-term problem. This is mainly due to the fact that the embedded systems are constrained by their operational environment and the limited resources they are equipped with. Recent research activities focus on the deployment of lightweight cryptographic algorithms and security protocols that are well suited to the limited resources of low-end embedded systems. Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) offers an interesting alternative to the classical public key cryptography for embedded systems (e.g., RSA and ElGamal), since it uses smaller key sizes for achieving the same security level, thus making ECC an attractive and efficient alternative for deployment in embedded systems. In this chapter, the processing requirements and architectures for secure network access, communication functions, storage, and high availability of embedded devices are discussed. In addition, ECC-based state-of-the-art lightweight cryptographic primitives for the deployment of security protocols in embedded systems that fulfill the requirements are presented.
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A Brief Introduction To Cryptographic Primitives

We briefly review in this part the basic cryptographic primitives and protocols. For more in-depth information on the concepts discussed in this chapter, the reader may consult the excellent book (Stallings, 1999).

A message to be subjected to encryption is called the plaintext or cleartext. Encryption is the process that transforms the message into a form so that it cannot be understood by parties who do not possess a special key. The transformed message is called ciphertext. Decryption is the process of transforming back the ciphertext into its original (plaintext) form. The science of keeping messages secure from being understood by unauthorised persons is cryptography. Cryptanalysis is the process of discovering the plaintext from the ciphertext without initial knowledge of the key.

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