Summer Graduates

Patrick Schaumont bio photo By Patrick Schaumont

Imagine a company where 60% of the employees would leave in the span of a couple months. Mayor layoffs? Imminent bankruptcy? Bubble burst? Not at all – this is business as usual in Academics. We pride ourselves when our students graduate, and we cheerfully start over.

This summer, five members have graduated from the Secure Embedded Systems lab. They leave behind many good memories, papers and bright ideas. Let me briefly introduce them, their thesis topic, and their next move.

Aydin Aysu, PhD, wrote his dissertation on “Resource-constrained and Resource-efficient Modern Cryptosystem Design”. He published extensively on cryptographic engineering problems in secure embedded system design: hash-based and post-quantum signatures, tiny block cipher implementations, crypto running on energy-harvesting, and physical unclonable functions. He built cryptosystems – not just algorithm implementations, but complete protocols. The thesis of his research is that resource-constrained design, and resource-efficient design are two different things. Aydin will join the group of Prof. Orshansky and Prof. Tiwari at UT Austin as a postdoc fellow.

Nahid Farhady Ghalaty, PhD, wrote her dissertation on “Fault Attacks on Cryptosystems: Novel Threat Models, Countermeasures and Evaluation Techniques”. Her research lies at the basis of our current activities in fault attacks and fault analysis of cryptosystems. It also lies at the basis of a fault-attack aware microprocessor design called FAME, and a new fault analysis mechanism called Different Fault Intensity Analysis (DFIA). The fundamental thesis in her PhD is that a fault model should not be left to the imagination of a cryptographer. Instead, a fault model is defined by the properties and physics of the implementation. By better understanding of the implementation, we can build better fault models and better fault attacks. Nahid is joining the CS Department of Texas Tech as an Assistant Professor.

Hemendra Rawat, MS, wrote his thesis on “Vector Instruction Set Extensions for Efficient and Reliable Computation of Keccak”. He designed a set of six custom-instructions that, taken together, support the implementation of SHA-3, Keyak and Ketje for a range of security levels. He designed a prototype implementation of these instructions in a NEON vector processing unit part of an ARM microprocessor, and then evaluated the performance of SHA-3, Keyak and Ketje by a micro-architecture simulation in GEM5. The result is a speedup of 2.2 for SHA-3, when compared against hand-optimized NEON code written by the Keccak designers. And, the soft-IP model of an ARM design means that you can actually take these custom instructions into a real implementation. Hemendra is joining National Instruments.

Carol Pinto, MS, wrote her thesis on “Optimization of Physical Unclonable Function Protocols for Lightweight Processing”. Carol worked on reducing the implementation cost of Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) authentication protocols. One of the understated problems in the current generation of PUFs is that post-processing of PUF data is compute-intensive. For realistic operating parameters (low bit error rate, high entropy), one can find that there is quite a bit of error correction and strong-extraction required. This, in turn, contradicts the idea that PUFs are a simple and easy way to store keys in resource-constrained embedded systems. Carol investigated techniques to reduce the implementation cost of PUF enrollment and PUF error/bias correction. She will join Bluejeans, a video conferencing company.

Shravya Gaddam, MS, wrote her thesis on “Design and Implementation of PUF Based Protocols for Remote Integrity Verification”. As part of a larger project sponsored by CISCO, a group of our students developed a technique to demonstrate the remote authentication of a Printed Circuit Board. This works by remote authentication of a PUF. There’s a demonstration video of this design in the media section. Shravya’s thesis describes the implementation details of the initial design, which used a DE2-115 FPGA board with uC-Linux. She also developed a solution for a three-party version of the PUF authentication problem, where a third-party verifier (Trent) needs to check that a given PUF (Alice) is enrolled in a secure database (Bob), but is not allowed to directly access either of them. Shravya will join Intel.

I wish all of them good luck and excellence in their research career!