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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

SecureRF teams with Intel to future-proof FPGA security

By Nick Flaherty at

SecureRF has been busy lately with its post-quantum security technology that fits into low cost microcontrollers used in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Now it has teamed up with Intel to add that technology to the Altera FPGAs that are used in the IoT, making sure they can't be cracked by quantum computers.
The first security toolkit, available now, adds the technology to Intel's DE10-Nano development board. SecureRF is providing a complete SDK and has written a technical article on authenticating remote devices with a Cyclone V System-on-Chip (SoC) FPGA.

One use for these FPGAs is to act as an IoT gateway at the edge of the network to authenticate and control hundreds of remote endpoints, so security is vital. Low-resource endpoints, often running on 8- or 16-bit processors, limit the options for strong security that must also run on an IoT gateway and legacy security methods such as ECC are computationally too expensive. 

The security toolkit includes Ironwood Key Agreement Protocol (Ironwood KAP) and Walnut Digital Signature Algorithm (WalnutDSA), which are designed to run on the smallest processors. Based on Group Theoretic Cryptography methods, SecureRF’s solutions are up to 60 times more efficient than ECC, consume up to 140 times less energy, and are quantum-resistant to all known attacks.

Ironwood enables two endpoints to generate a shared secret over an open channel, while WalnutDSA allows one device to generate a document that can be verified by another device. Both methods are implemented partially in software on the Intel Cyclone V’s ARM Cortex-A9 and partially in the FPGA’s fabric. All the compute-intensive routines are executed in hardware, for better performance.

“Authentication and secure control of a device entering the IoT is not only a privacy issue, but it is quickly becoming a safety concern too. Many of these small processors are now controlling critical functions in cars, and other types of machines that interact with people every day, and our solutions are focused on creating a trusted environment,” said Louis Parks, CEO of SecureRF.

Developers can download an SD card image of SecureRF’s security tools from its Security Toolkit webpage. The image includes WalnutDSA and Ironwood, as well as three separate demonstrations showing the operation of the signature algorithm and the key agreement protocol. 

The DE10-Nano board adds high-speed DDR3 memory, analogue-to-digital capabilities and Ethernet networking to teh Cyclone V that includes an ARM-based hard processor system (HPS) with dual-core Cortex-A9 embedded processors, peripherals and memory interfaces, connected to programmable logic via a high-bandwidth interconnect backbone.

More details are at Intel’s Developer Zone website.

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