In a presentation at the NIST Lightweight Cryptographic Workshop 2016, Derek Atkins, SecureRF’s Chief Technology Officer, introduced the audience to WalnutDSA, our lightweight, public-key signature scheme for use in low-resource IoT devices. WalnutDSA’s major benefits, Atkins explained, include its quantum resistance and its rapid signature verification, especially in comparison with ECDSA.
Atkins took the audience through the mathematical foundations of WalnutDSA, which includes E-multiplication, our one-way function. He described the signature scheme’s key-generation and signature generator processes. And he listed the advantages of using WalnutDSA over elliptic curve methods including its resistance to Shor’s quantum algorithm that breaks ECC and RSA, and Grover’s quantum search algorithm.
To conclude the presentation, Atkins shared WalnutDSA’s performance results in four implementations (three software and one FPGA). On a Texas Instruments MSP430 16-bit microcontroller, an ARM Cortex M3 processor and an FPGA system (in hardware), WalnutDSA used significantly less ROM and RAM, and ran 21x to 63x faster than ECDSA on the same platforms and at the same security levels. WalnutDSA performance also was presented for the 8-bit 8051 platform (where ECC cannot run without hardware accelerators).
NIST initiated its lightweight cryptography project in 2013 partly to study the performance of NIST-approved cryptographic standards on constrained devices, such as those frequently found in the IoT, and to search for ways to improve security in that environment by possibly standardizing on new, lightweight methods. This was SecureRF’s second time presenting at the lightweight cryptography workshop.