Preventing Scaling of Successful Attacks: A Cross-Layer Security Architecture for Resource-Constrained Platforms

Christian Zenger, Abhijit Ambekar, Fredrik Winzer, Thomas Pöppelmann, Hans D. Schotten, Chris­tof Paar

1st International Conference on Cryptography and Information Security (BalkanCryptSec), 2014


Key-establishment based on parameters of the communication channels is a highly attractive option for many applications that operate in a dynamic mobile environment with peer-to-peer association. So far, high usability and dynamic key management with the capability of perfect forward secrecy are very difficult to achieve for wireless devices which have to operate under strict resource constraints. Additionally, previous work has failed to address hybrid systems composed of physical layer security (PHYSEC) and asymmetric cryptography for key establishment. In this work we present the first hybrid system architecture suitable for resource-constrained platforms. As a result, long term deployment due to key diversity and forward/backward secrecy can be achieved while still satisfying the tight timing of an initial setup imposed by high user acceptance. Our design strongly focuses on reusing communication chip components for PHYSEC and makes use of efficient asymmetric cryptography (e.g., ECDH) augmented by physical layer security. Our prototype implementation demonstrates that our approach has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of securing small embedded devices for the Internet of Things, and hence make mass production and deployment viable.