Lightweight Code-based Cryptography: QC-MDPC McEliece Encryption on Reconfigurable Devices

Ingo von Maurich, Tim Güneysu

Design, Automation & Test in Europe, DATE 2014, Dresden, Germany, March 24-28, 2014.


With the break of RSA and ECC cryptosystems in an era of quantum computing, asymmetric code-based cryptography is an established alternative that can be a potential replacement. A major drawback are large keys in the range between 50 kByte to several MByte that prevented real-world applications of code-based cryptosystems so far. A recent proposal by Misoczki et al. showed that quasi-cyclic moderate density parity-check (QC-MDPC) codes can be used in McEliece encryption -- reducing the public key to just 0.6 kByte to achieve a 80-bit security level. Despite of reasonably small key sizes that could also enable small designs, previous work only report high-performance implementations with high resource consumptions of more than 13,000 slices on a large Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA for a combined en-/decryption unit. In this work we focus on lightweight implementations of code-based cryptography and demonstrate that McEliece encryption using QC-MDPC codes can be implemented with a significantly smaller resource footprint -- still achieving reasonable performance sufficient for many applications, e.g., challenge-response protocols or hybrid firmware encryption. More precisely, our design requires just 68 slices for the encryption and around 150 slices for the decryption unit and is able to en-/decrypt an input block in 2.2 ms and 13.4 ms, respectively.

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