Cybersecurity with Secure Elements
This research project is focused on hardware-software solutions, based on secure elements (micro-controllers with embedded secure memories), components that are widely distributed on terminals, mobile devices, banking cards, ID/passports, and Internet of things. This research work is fully synergetic with existing cryptographic methods such as RSA, DSA, ECC, AES, and authentication methods based on biometry, passwords, and hardware authentication such as PUF.
Physically Unclonable Functions (PUFs)
PUFs are strengthening the level of security of emerging authentication methods, and this as part of a set of cryptographic primitives. PUFs act as a virtual “DNA”s or “finger print” of the hardware by delivering unique signatures during the authentication process. PUFs exploit variations which are introduced during the fabrication of the devices. The research interest at NAU is to design PUF with memories containing ternary states, and is based on commercially available memory architectures such as SRAMs, TCAMs, Flash, DRAMs, MRAMs, and Resistive RAMs. True Random Number Generators (TRNG) can be designed as by-product of these PUFs.
Resistive RAM (ReRAM) architectures for secure systems
Resistive Random Access Memories (ReRAM) have unique features that are attractive to design highly secure systems such as secure elements. The understanding and design of secure elements based on ReRAM is an important area of research at NAU, and is in collaboration with universities and industrial institutions that have prototyping capabilities. An architecture of interest is the partitioning of the memory array for multi-function authentication, and for quick erase in case of side channel attacks.
Secure memory with blocking states and edit distance algorithm for multi-function authentication
Commonly-used methods for multi-function authentication are sequential. Multi-function authentications include user authentication with biometric methods, hardware authentication with PUF, and authentication with cryptographic keys. The area of research of interest at NAU is the design of giant cryptographic keys that are the combination of these authentication methods and keys. In case of a mismatch during the single multi-function authentication process, the source of the mismatch is not disclosed. The research work to generate such a giant key includes the design of content addressable memories with additional blocking states, and software algorithms based on “edit distance.”