Securing Pervasive Computing

Christof Paar
Chair for Communication Security
Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany

Host: Professor Wayne Burleson

Where: Gunness Conference Room, Marcus Hall

When: Friday, Dec. 1, at 3:00pm


Until recently, the main concern of the IT security community was to secure traditional computer networks such as LANs or the Internet. The next generation of "computer" networks could look quite different: your clothes might talk to your car, your PDA could talk to the refrigerator, which in turn will communicate with the milk carton. Digital rights management in portable devices such as the iPod, or assuring that only OEM cartridges are being used in printers, have already become important applications for embedded security. Those and many other pervasive computing systems will have security solutions which are different from, say, building firewalls for a corporate network.

In the last few years, embedded security as a discipline has become more mature. In contrast to classical IT security, securing pervasive applications is heavily dependent on the target's hardware and firmware. For instance, performing a digital signature can be a major challenge for an RFID bar code label. The sometimes delicate interaction of security and engineering issues requires an interdisciplinary approach for robust security solutions. In this talk we will give an overview of current research in this emerging field. As an example, we will show our approach to building ultra light-weight crypto for applications such as RFID tags, yielding the smallest known secure block cipher. In a second example, we will describe our solutions to securing vehicular ad-hoc networks (VANETs), combining cryptographic engineering and protocol design.