Paper 2021/1553

Performance Evaluation of Post-Quantum TLS 1.3 on Resource-Constrained Embedded Systems

George Tasopoulos, Athena Research and Innovation Center In Information Communication & Knowledge Technologies
Jinhui Li, Monash University
Apostolos P. Fournaris, Athena Research and Innovation Center In Information Communication & Knowledge Technologies
Raymond K. Zhao, Monash University
Amin Sakzad, Monash University
Ron Steinfeld, Monash University

Transport Layer Security (TLS) constitutes one of the most widely used protocols for securing Internet communications and has also found broad acceptance in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain. As we progress toward a security environment resistant to quantum computer attacks, TLS needs to be transformed to support post-quantum cryptography. However, post-quantum TLS is still not standardised, and its overall performance, especially in resource-constrained, IoT-capable, embedded devices, is not well understood. In this paper, we showcase how TLS 1.3 can be transformed into quantum-safe by modifying the TLS 1.3 architecture in order to accommodate the latest Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) algorithms from NIST PQC process. Furthermore, we evaluate the execution time, memory, and bandwidth requirements of this proposed post-quantum variant of TLS 1.3 (PQ TLS 1.3). This is facilitated by integrating the pqm4 and PQClean library implementations of almost all PQC algorithms selected for standardisation by the NIST PQC process, as well as the alternatives to be evaluated in a new round (Round 4). The proposed solution and evaluation focuses on the lower end of resource-constrained embedded devices. Thus, the evaluation is performed on the ARM Cortex-M4 embedded platform NUCLEO-F439ZI that provides $180$ MHz clock rate, $2$ MB Flash Memory, and $256$ KB SRAM. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first systematic, thorough, and complete timing, memory usage, and network traffic evaluation of PQ TLS 1.3 for all the NIST PQC process selections and upcoming candidate algorithms, that explicitly targets resource-constrained embedded systems.

Available format(s)
Cryptographic protocols
Publication info
Published elsewhere. accepted by the ISPEC 2022 conference
implementation embedded systems public-key cryptography post-quantum cryptography digital signatures TLS TLS 1.3 network reliability
Contact author(s)
g tasop @ protonmail com
jinhui0018 @ gmail com
fournaris @ isi gr
raymond zhao @ monash edu
amin sakzad @ monash edu
ron steinfeld @ monash edu
2022-12-06: last of 2 revisions
2021-11-29: received
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      author = {George Tasopoulos and Jinhui Li and Apostolos P.  Fournaris and Raymond K.  Zhao and Amin Sakzad and Ron Steinfeld},
      title = {Performance Evaluation of Post-Quantum {TLS} 1.3 on Resource-Constrained Embedded Systems},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/1553},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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