Post-Quantum Cryptography in Hardware and Embedded Systems

Post-Quantum Cryptography

Major investment by companies, such as Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and NTT, has led to the first general-purpose quantum processors, and selecting quantum computing as one of the ten breakthrough technologies of 2017. The goal of this project is to support NIST in its effort to develop a new generation of public-key cryptographic standards, resistant against quantum computers, a.k.a. NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) Standardization Process. In Round 1 of this effort, the assessment of PQC candidates has focused primarily on their security and software efficiency. Relatively little progress has been made so far to understand the true potential of these algorithms for efficient and secure hardware and embedded systems implementations. The goal of this project is to set the foundation for the early, systematic, and comprehensive study of the hardware efficiency of the most promising PQC candidates. The next 5-10 years are very likely to bring the biggest revolution in cryptography, since the invention of public-key cryptography in mid-1970s. This project gives us a unique opportunity to influence the choice of future cryptographic standards, which are likely to be developed and deployed within the next decade and remain in use for the significant portion (if not the rest) of the 21st century.

Welcome to the webpage of the Cryptographic Engineering Research Group at George Mason University. Cryptography, from Greek krpto (hidden) and grapho (write), is the science and practice of hiding information. Most Internet users come in contact with cryptography when they go to a secure website of an Internet retailer. Other popular applications are secure e-mail, Internet banking, mobile phones, etc. Cryptography has its roots in mathematics, computer science and engineering. Cryptographic Engineering is concerned with all aspects of implementing cryptographic algorithms in hardware and / or software. This ranges from high performance implementations to ultra-low power implementations of public key and secret key algorithms, fault tolerant implementations, attack resistant implementation and even implementations of attacks.


Job Announcements:

GRA Positions in Post-Quantum Cryptography

CERG is seeking qualified candidates for multiple Graduate Research Assistant positions in the area of efficient implementations of Post-Quantum Cryptosystems, side-channel attacks targeting these cryptosystems, and countermeasures against such attacks. The desired qualifications include strong mathematical background in algebra and number theory, experience in hardware design using hardware description languages, and knowledge of C and scripting languages, such as Python. Additional experience in Magma or SageMath, ASIC or FPGA design, software/hardware codesign, High-Level Synthesis, embedded software development, and Linux operating system is a plus.

GRA Position in Lightweight Cryptography

CERG is seeking qualified candidates for a Graduate Research Assistant position in the area of efficient and secure implementations of Lightweight Cryptography. The desired qualifications include experience in embedded systems, knowledge of C, assembly and scripting languages, hardware design using hardware description languages, Linux operating system, and strong experimental skills. Additional experience in side-channel and fault attacks, countermeasures against these attacks, ASIC or FPGA design, software/hardware codesign, embedded software development, and/or circuit/PCB design is a plus.

All positions are open starting in January or August 2022. Qualified candidates should apply to the ECE PhD program at George Mason University, indicating Dr. Gaj and/or Dr. Kaps as possible future advisors. In parallel, an earlier e-mail contact with Dr. Gaj and/or Dr. Kaps is highly recommended.


Latest News:

Rishub Nagpal defended his Master's Thesis

On June 28, 2021, Rishub Nagpal, CERG affiliated scholar, defended his Master's thesis at the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT) in Warsaw, Poland. The thesis is titled "Automatically Generating Related-Key Boomerangs with Constraint Programming: Application to the Saturnin Block Cipher." It was supervisored by Prof. Zbigniew Kotulski, WUT, and reviewed by Dr. Jordi Mongay Batalla, WUT. (06/29/2021)


Michal Andrzejczak defended his Ph.D. Thesis

On June 25, 2021, Michal Andrzejczak, CERG affiliated scholar, defended his Ph.D. thesis at the Military University of Technology (MUT) in Warsaw, Poland. His thesis is titled "Acceleration of lattice based algorithms." His Ph.D. advisor was Prof. Andrzej Paszkiewicz, MUT, and his external reviewers were Prof. Ernest Jamro, AGH University of Science and Technology, and Prof. Miroslaw Kurkowski, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. (06/25/2021)


Multiple members of CERG attended the Future of Cryptographic Engineering webinar

On June 18, 2021, multiple members of CERG attended a webinar titled "Future of Cryptographic Engineering," organized by Sabancı University, Turkey. Speakers at this event included professors: Erkay Savaş (Sabancı University, Turkey), Ingrid Verbauwhede (COSIC Research Group of the Electrical Engineering Department, KU Leuven, Belgium), Thomas Eisenbarth (University of Lubeck, Germany), Patrick Schaumont (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA), Christof Paar (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany and Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy, Germany, Francisco Rodríguez Henríquez (Cryptography Research Centre, TII, UAE; Computer Science Department, Cinvestav, Mexico), and Aydın Aysu (NC State University, USA). (06/19/2021)


Duc Tri Nguyen spoke at PQCrypto 2021

Duc Tri Nguyen gave a talk titled "Fast NEON-based multiplication for lattice-based NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography finalists" at PQCrypto 2021, held on July 20-22, 2021. This talk was based on the paper Duc co-authored with Dr. Kris Gaj. The final program of the conference, including video recordings of all talks can be found on this page. (07/23/2021)


Abubakr Abdulgadir spoke at the special session of GLSVLSI 2021

Abubakr Abdulgadir gave a talk titled "Side-Channel Resistant Implementations of a Novel Lightweight Authenticated Cipher with Application to Hardware Security" at GLSVLSI 2021: Virtual Conference and Exhibition, to be held on June 22-25, 2021. This talk was a part of the Special Session 5A: "New Trends in Hardware Security: Provisioning for Testing, Attack Resilience, and Lightweight Cryptography," proposed and co-organized by Dr. Gaj. (06/12/2021)


Dr. Kaps served as an external reviewer of a Ph.D. thesis defended at the Technical University of Munich

Dr. Kaps served as an external reviewer for the Ph.D. thesis defended at the Technical University of Munich. Dr. Kaps reviewed the thesis developed by Michael Tempelmeier. The final defense took place on June 10, 2021. The supervisor of the thesis was Prof. Dr.-Ing. Georg Sigl, from Chair of Security in Information Technology, Technical University of Munich, Germany. (06/11/2021)


Members of CERG gave three presentations at the Third NIST PQC Standardization Conference

Multiple members of CERG attended the Third PQC Standardization Conference held virtually on June 7-9, 2021. Dr. Gaj gave the talk titled "High-Speed Hardware Architectures and Fair FPGA Benchmarking of CRYSTALS-Kyber, NTRU, and Saber," based on the paper co-authored by Viet Ba Dang, Kamyar Mohajerani, and Kris Gaj. Duc Tri Nguyen gave the presentation titled "Optimized Software Implementations of CRYSTALS-Kyber, NTRU, and Saber Using NEON-Based Special Instructions of ARMv8," based on the paper co-authored with Kris Gaj. Abubakr Abdulgadir gave the talk titled "A Lightweight Implementation of Saber Resistant Against Side-Channel Attacks," based on the paper co-authored by Abubakr Abdulgadir, Kamyar Mohajerani, Viet Ba Dang, Jens-Peter Kaps, and Kris Gaj. All presentations and the corresponding papers can be found at the conference website. (06/10/2021)


Viet Dang's internship at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

On June 1, 2021, Viet Dang started an internship in the RFAMS Design Group at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc, scheduled to last until August 20, 2021. (06/02/2021)


Abubakr Abdulgadir defended his Ph.D. Thesis

Abubakr Abdulgadir defended his Ph.D. Thesis, titled "Secure Implementation of Cryptography: Tools and Case Studies," on May 28, 2021. The members of his dissertation committee included Dr. Kaps (Chair), Dr. Gaj, Dr. Sasan, and Dr. Gordon. (05/21/2021)


Duc Tri Nguyen's internship at General Electric

On May 17, 2021, Duc Tri Nguyen started an internship in General Electric, conducted in Schenectady, NY, scheduled to last until August 20, 2021. His supervisor at General Electric is Dr. Krzysztof Kepa. (05/18/2021)


Duc Tri Nguyen was a part of the team that earned 3rd place in NCCDC 2021

Duc Tri Nguyen was a part of the George Mason University Team that earned 3rd place in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC). The final round took place on April 23-24, 2021. NCCDC is the nation's largest competition of its kind. It gives cybersecurity students from across the country a chance to test their skills. The GMU team participated in the final round of this competition for the first time in the history. The leader of the GMU Team was Zaine Wilson, BS in Cyber Security Engineering. (05/11/2021)


Richard Haeussler defended his Master's Thesis

Richard Haeussler defended his Master's Thesis titled "Implementation, Benchmarking, and Protection of Lightweight Cryptography Candidates," on April 28, 2021. Members of his Committee included: Dr. Gaj (Chair), Dr. Kaps, and Dr. Sasan. (04/29/2021)


Dr. Kaps and Dr. Gaj served as external reviewers of two Ph.D. theses defended at the Czech Technical University in Prague

Dr. Kaps and Dr. Gaj served as external reviewers for two Ph.D. theses defended at the Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic. Dr. Kaps reviewed the thesis titled "Hardware generated keys for cryptographic systems and protocols," developed by Simona Buchovecka, and Dr. Gaj the thesis titled "The Ring Oscillator based PUF on FPGAs," developed by Filip Kodytek. The final defense took place on April 22, 2021. The supervisor of both theses was Prof. Robert Lorencz, from the Department of Information Security, Faculty of Information Technology, at Czech Technical University in Prague. (04/23/2021)


CERG released a major update of the LWC FPGA Benchmarking Report

On February 24, 2021, members of CERG released a substantial update of their technical report titled "FPGA Benchmarking of Round 2 Candidates in the NIST Lightweight Cryptography Standardization Process: Methodology, Metrics, Tools, and Results." The report was co-authored by Kamyar Mohajerani, Richard Haeussler, Rishub Nagpal, Farnoud Farahmand, Abubakr Abdulgadir, Jens-Peter Kaps, and Kris Gaj. The report is published as the Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 2020/1207. It is also available on the LWC web page of the CERG ATHENa project. (02/25/2021)


Dr. Gaj awarded a Commonwealth Cyber Initiative grant

Dr. Gaj was awarded a grant from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) for the project titled "Evaluation of Lattice-Based Candidates in the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Process in Terms of Security and Performance in Hardware." The expected period of performance is January 1, 2021, through May 25, 2022. The anticipated total external funding is $124,000. This project is a joint effort with the research group of Dr. Travis Morrison from the Department of Mathematics at Virginia Tech. (01/14/2021)


Luke Beckwith joined CERG

In January 2021, Luke Beckwith joined CERG as a part-time Ph.D. student, working under the supervision of Dr. Kris Gaj. Luke received his BS and MS degrees in Computer Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2019 and 2020, respectively. In parallel with his Ph.D. studies, Luke works as a Computer Engineer at PQSecure. His research interests include hardware and embedded system implementations of the Post-Quantum Cryptography and Lightweight Cryptography algorithms. In 2020, he co-authored a paper, "New Directions for NewHope: Improving Performance of Post-Quantum Cryptography through Algorithm-level Pipelining," which appeared in proceedings of the International Conference on Field Programmable Technology, FPT'20. (01/07/2021)


Dr. Bhasin and Dr. Gaj co-organized special session at DATE 2021

Dr. Shivam Bhasin from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Dr. Kris Gaj co-organized a special session at DATE 2021: Design, Automation and Test in Europe conference. The session was titled "A deep dive into future of lightweight cryptography: New standards, optimizations, and attacks." It included four talks devoted to presenting recent research results, covering different aspects of the security and performance of authenticated ciphers and hash functions, submitted to the NIST LWC Standardization Process. (11/24/2020)


Latest publications:

Copyright Notice

The research papers below are presented here to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All person copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. In most cases, these works may not be reposted on third party websites, reproduced, distributed, sold, or licensed without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

  • K. Mohajerani, R. Haeussler, R. Nagpal, F. Farahmand, A. Abdulgadir, J.-P. Kaps, and K. Gaj, Hardware benchmarking of Round 2 candidates in the NIST lightweight cryptography standardization process, 24th Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference, DATE 2021, Feb, 2021 [Bibtex]
  • M. Andrzejczak and K. Gaj, A multiplatform parallel approach for lattice sieving algorithms, International Conference on Algorithms and Architectures for Parallel Processing, ICA3PP 2020, LNCS, volume 12452, pages 661-680, 2020 [Bibtex]
  • J. Bahrami, V. Dang, A. Abdulgadir, K.N. Khasawneh, J.-P. Kaps, and K. Gaj, Lightweight implementation of the lowmc block cipher protected against side-channel attacks, Proc. 4th ACM Workshop on Attacks and Solutions in Hardware Security, ASHES 2020, pages 45-56, Nov, 2020 [pdf] [Bibtex]
  • J. Xie, K. Basu, K. Gaj, and U. Guin, Special session: The recent advance in hardware implementation of post-quantum cryptography, IEEE VLSI Test Symposium 2020 (Virtual Conference), Apr., 2020 [Bibtex]
  • M.X. Lyons and K. Gaj, Sampling from discrete distributions in combinational hardware with application to post-quantum cryptography, Design, Automation and Test in Europe Virtual Conference and Exhibition, DATE 2020, Apr, 2020 [Bibtex]
  • D.T. Nguyen, V.B. Dang, and K. Gaj, High-level synthesis in implementing and benchmarking number theoretic transform in lattice-based post-quantum cryptography using software/hardware codesign, 16th International Symposium on Applied Reconfigurable Computing, ARC 2020, pages 247-257, April, 2020 [Bibtex]
  • A. Abdulgadir, W. Diehl, and J.-P. Kaps, An open-source platform for evaluation of hardware implementations of lightweight authenticated ciphers, 2019 International Conference on Reconfigurable Computing and FPGAs, ReConFig 2019, Cancun, Mexico, Dec., 2019 [Accepted Version, pdf] [Bibtex]
  • M. Andrzejczak, F. Farahmand, and K. Gaj, Full hardware implementation of the post-quantum public-key cryptography scheme Round5, 2019 International Conference on Reconfigurable Computing and FPGAs, ReConFig 2019, Cancun, Mexico, Dec., 2019 [Bibtex]
  • V.B. Dang, F. Farahmand, M. Andrzejczak, and K. Gaj, Implementing and benchmarking three lattice-based post-quantum cryptography algorithms using software/hardware codesign, 2019 International Conference on Field Programmable Technology, FPT 2019, Tianjin, China, pages 206-214, Dec., 2019 [Bibtex]
  • D.T. Nguyen, V.B. Dang, and K. Gaj, A high-level synthesis approach to the software/hardware codesign of NTT-based post-quantum cryptography algorithms, 2019 International Conference on Field Programmable Technology, FPT 2019, Tianjin, China, pages 371-374, Dec., 2019 [Bibtex]
  • F. Farahmand, D.T. Nguyen, V.B. Dang, A. Ferozpuri, and K. Gaj, Software/hardware codesign of the post quantum cryptography algorithm NTRUEncrypt using high-level synthesis and register-transfer level design methodologies, 29th International Confererence on Field-Programmable Logic and Applications, FPL 2019, Barcelona, Spain, Sep., 2019 [Bibtex]
  • T. Winograd, R. Shahid, and K. Gaj, An automated scheduler-based approach for the development of cryptoprocessors for pairing-based cryptosystems, 26th Reconfigurable Architectures Workshop, RAW 2019, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May, 2019 [Bibtex]
  • F. Farahmand, V.B. Dang, D.T. Nguyen, and K. Gaj, Evaluating the potential for hardware acceleration of four NTRU-based Key Encapsulation Mechanisms using software/hardware codesign, 10th International Conference on Post-Quantum Cryptography, PQCrypto 2019, Chongqing, China, LNCS, Springer, May, 2019 [Bibtex]
  • W. Diehl, F. Farahmand, A. Abdulgadir, J.-P. Kaps, and K. Gaj, Face-off between the CAESAR lightweight finalists: ACORN vs. Ascon, Cryptology ePrint Archive, number 184, March, 2019 [Bibtex]
  • F. Farahmand, M.U. Sharif, K. Briggs, and K. Gaj, A high-speed constant-time hardware implementation of NTRUEncrypt SVES, International Conference on Field Programmable Technology, FPT 2018, Naha, Okinawa, Japan, December, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • W. Diehl, F. Farahmand, A. Abdulgadir, J.-P. Kaps, and K. Gaj, Face-off between the CAESAR lightweight finalists: ACORN vs. Ascon, International Conference on Field Programmable Technology, FPT 2018, Naha, Okinawa, Japan, December, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • A. Ferozpuri and K. Gaj, High-speed FPGA implementation of the NIST Round 1 Rainbow signature scheme, 2018 International Conference on Reconfigurable Computing and FPGAs, ReConFig 2018, Cancun, Mexico, December, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • M. Tempelmeier, J.-P. Kaps, and G. Sigl, Experimental power and performance evaluation of CAESAR hardware finalists, 2018 International Conference on Reconfigurable Computing and FPGAs, ReConFig 2018, Cancun, Mexico, December, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • G. Banegas, P.S.L.M. Barreto, B.O. Boidje, P.-L. Cayrel, G.N. Dione, K. Gaj, C.T. Gueye, R. Haeussler, J.B. Klamti, O. Ndiaye, D.T. Nguyen, and E. Persichetti, DAGS: Key encapsulation using Dyadic GS codes, Journal of Mathematical Cryptology, volume 12, number 4, pages 221–240, December, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • K. Gaj, Challenges and rewards of implementing and benchmarking Post-Quantum Cryptography in hardware, The 28th ACM Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI, GLSVLSI 2018, Chicago, IL, USA, ACM, May, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • F. Farahmand, W. Diehl, A. Abdulgadir, J.-P. Kaps, and K. Gaj, Improved lightweight implementations of CAESAR authenticated ciphers, The 26th IEEE International Symposium on Field-Programmable Custom Computing Machines, FCCM 2018, Boulder, CO, USA, IEEE, pages 29–36, April, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • M. Tempelmeier, F. De, J.-P. Kaps, and G. Sigl, The CAESAR-api in the real world - towards a fair evaluation of hardware CAESAR candidates, IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST), Washington, DC, Apr, 2018 [Bibtex]
  • W. Diehl, A. Abdulgadir, F. Farahmand, J.-P. Kaps, and K. Gaj, Comparison of cost of protection against differential power analysis of selected authenticated ciphers, IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust, HOST 2018, Washington, DC, April, 2018 [Bibtex]