Faculty Advisor

Berk Sunar

Faculty Advisor

William J. Martin

Faculty Advisor

Brian King

Faculty Advisor

Fred J. Looft




Message Authentication Codes (MACs) are valuable tools for ensuring the integrity of messages. MACs may be built around a keyed hash function. Our main motivation was to prove that universal hash functions can be employed as underlying primitives of MACs in order to provide provable security in ultra-low-power applications such as the next generation self-powered sensor networks. The idea of using a universal hash function (NH) was explored in the construction of UMAC. This work presents three variations on NH, namely PH, PR and WH. The first hash function we propose, PH, produces a hash of length 2w and is shown to be 2^(-w)-almost universal. The other two hash functions, i.e. PR and WH, reach optimality and are proven to be universal hash functions with half the hash length of w. In addition, these schemes are simple enough to allow for efficient constructions. To the best of our knowledge the proposed hash functions are the first ones specifically designed for low-power hardware implementations. We achieve drastic power savings of up to 59% and speedup of up to 7.4 times over NH. Note that the speed improvement and the power reduction are accomplished simultaneously. Moreover, we show how the technique of multi- hashing and the Toeplitz approach can be combined to reduce the power and energy consumption even further while maintaining the same security level with a very slight increase in the amount of key material. At low frequencies the power and energy reductions are achieved simultaneously while keeping the hashing time constant. We develope formulae for estimation of leakage and dynamic power consumptions as well as energy consumption based on the frequency and the Toeplitz parameter t. We introduce a powerful method for scaling WH according to specific energy and power consumption requirements. This enables us to optimize the hash function implementation for use in ultra-low-power applications such as "Smart Dust" motes, RFIDs, and Piconet nodes. Our simulation results indicate that the implementation of WH-16 consumes only 2.95 ìW 500 kHz. It can therefore be integrated into a self- powered device. By virtue of their security and implementation features mentioned above, we believe that the proposed universal hash functions fill an important gap in cryptographic hardware applications.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Electrical & Computer Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





self-powered, universal hashing, ultra-low-power, message authentication codes, provable security, Cryptography, Authentication, Microelectromechanical systems, Message authentication codes