Cryptographic Module for Wireless Sensor Nodes Complying with FIPS 140-2

Open Access
Kanani, Jesal Hiren
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Advisor
  • Julio Urbina, Thesis Advisor
  • Microprocessor
  • embedded
  • Cryptography
  • MSP430
  • AES
Cryptography is one of the leading techniques today for ensuring safety in a communications system. Apart from the military use, the information revolution caused by the recent development of computer science has yielded higher and higher demand for the commercial use of cryptography. As a result many ciphering algorithms have been developed in the past and are being continuously researched. Modern ciphering modules include techniques of implementing these crypto algorithms into them in the form of either hardware or software or both, the end result being a safe and secure communication channel. Looking at the growing research done in this field along with new ways of breaking ciphers, the National Institute for Standard and Technology (NIST) published a standard called the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) in January 1994. The FIPS calls for a uniform pattern that is to be used by federal organizations during the implementation of cryptographic-based security systems that deals with sensitive and valuable data. The standard provides security requirements covering areas related to secure design and implementation of a cryptographic module. It provides four increasing, quantitative levels of security intended to cover a wide range of potential applications and environments. The thesis presents a framework for a Cryptographic Module for wireless sensor nodes complying with FIPS 140-2. The module will be installed on Navy ships along with existing wireless sensor nodes and hence comes the FIPS validation requirement. The module is being implemented on a Texas Instrument MSP430 micro-processor and the IAR embedded workbench programming and compiling. Since the crypto module needs to comply with the FIPS, the ciphering algorithm used is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as it is a FIPS approved algorithm. Given the requirements, the module will be primarily responsible for the I/O of binary data to and from the master controller and ciphering and deciphering of this data using the AES ciphering algorithm along with various authentication and error checking techniques. The presented architecture and hence the crypto module can be used for several other applications except the mentioned use with sensor nodes and can be made commercially available by the company supporting its development.