A Certificate-based Light-weight Authentication Algorithm For Resource-constrained Devices

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In this work, we analyze and extend a recently proposed design of digital certificates called TESLA certificates. Certificates are a necessary tool in today's secure networks to certify the identity of nodes taking part in communication. Most prevalent certificate technologies make use of public-key cryptography. Messages generated by the user are signed using its private key, and the signature can be verified by any node who knows the user's public key via its certificate. Signature generation and verification using public-key cryptography is computationally expensive for devices with limited computation power and energy resources. In this situation TESLA certificates can be very useful to certify identity, since they rely on symmetric cryptography which is computationally much more efficient. In this paper we explain the concept of TESLA certificates and provide a preliminary description of proposed modifications to the original algorithm to strengthen its security. We extend the original proposal by combining hash chains with TESLA certificates and come up with an efficient source and message authentication protocol based on symmetric key certificates. We also propose a new type of TESLA certificates called Group Certificates for use in multicast group communication. Through analysis, we show that our protocol is secure against malicious adversaries. We also give an initial estimate of the performance of our algorithm and the related comparison to public-key signatures, and we highlight network scenarios where the TESLA certificates could be particularly useful.