Energy-Aware Digital Signatures for Embedded Medical Devices

by   Muslum Ozgur Ozmen, et al.

Authentication is vital for the Internet of Things (IoT) applications involving sensitive data (e.g., medical and financial systems). Digital signatures offer scalable authentication with non-repudiation and public verifiability, which are necessary for auditing and dispute resolution in such IoT applications. However, digital signatures have been shown to be highly costly for low-end IoT devices, especially when embedded devices (e.g., medical implants) must operate without a battery replacement for a long time. We propose an Energy-aware Signature for Embedded Medical devices (ESEM) that achieves near-optimal signer efficiency. ESEM signature generation does not require any costly operations (e.g., elliptic curve (EC) scalar multiplication/addition), but only a small constant-number of pseudo-random function calls, additions, and a single modular multiplication. ESEM has the smallest signature size among its EC-based counterparts with an identical private key size. We achieve this by eliminating the use of the ephemeral public key (i.e, commitment) in Schnorr-type signatures from the signing via a distributed construction at the verifier without interaction with the signer while permitting a constant-size public key. We proved that ESEM is secure (in random oracle model), and fully implemented it on an 8-bit AVR microcontroller that is commonly used in medical devices. Our experiments showed that ESEM achieves 8.4x higher energy efficiency over its closest counterpart while offering a smaller signature and code size. Hence, ESEM can be suitable for deployment on resource limited embedded devices in IoT. We open-sourced our software for public testing and wide-adoption.


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