Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2017/511

State of the Art in Lightweight Symmetric Cryptography

Alex Biryukov and Leo Perrin

Abstract: Lightweight cryptography has been one of the ``hot topics'' in symmetric cryptography in the recent years. A huge number of lightweight algorithms have been published, standardized and/or used in commercial products.

In this paper, we discuss the different implementation constraints that a ``lightweight'' algorithm is usually designed to satisfy. We also present an extensive survey of all lightweight symmetric primitives we are aware of. It covers designs from the academic community, from government agencies and proprietary algorithms which were reverse-engineered or leaked. Relevant national (NIST...) and international (ISO/IEC}...) standards are listed. We then discuss some trends we identified in the design of lightweight algorithms, namely the designers' preference for ARX-based and bitsliced-S-Box-based designs and simple key schedules.

Finally, we argue that lightweight cryptography is too large a field and that it should be split into two related but distinct areas: ultra-lightweight and IoT cryptography. The former deals only with the smallest of devices for which a lower security level may be justified by the very harsh design constraints. The latter corresponds to low-power embedded processors for which the AES and modern hash function are costly but which have to provide a high level security due to their greater connectivity.

Category / Keywords: secret-key cryptography / Lightweight cryptography, Ultra-Lightweight, IoT, Internet of Things, SoK, Survey, Standards, Industry

Date: received 2 Jun 2017

Contact author: perrin leo at gmail com

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20170602:212843 (All versions of this report)

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