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Activity title

Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) in IoT

Activity Reference

IST-ET-104 (IWA)


Information Systems Technology

Security Classification



Awaiting Publication

Activity type


Start date


End date



Hardware Security, Internet of Things, IoT, One way functions, Physically Unclonable Functions, PUF, Secure Boot


Physical(ly) Unclonable Functions (PUFs) are, as a concept, close to a hardware-only version of abstract one-way functions. Within cryptography, one implementation of a one-way function is called a hash function. The security of PUFs is based on the assumed difficulty of exactly reproducing certain physical characteristics of different artificial constructs (usually integrated circuit technologies). Using secure implementations of PUFs it would be possible to implement a number of cryptographic primitives efficiently, and it has raised interest in the security community since 2002 (Gassendi et al., 2002) However, implementing a PUF securely and with sufficient independency (not affecting the security of other components), has proven to be difficult. Internet of Things (IoT) calls for ubiquitous computing and connecting a multitude of devices. From the security point of view, this means that computational power for demanding cryptographic operations is not necessarily available, nor may there be sufficient connectivity for different architectural components, required to fulfill some stated security service. PUFs, for their low cost and fast operation, would be a good candidate for establishing a number of IoT security functions. Among some of the proposed security services for IoT are: sensor / node identification, authentication and attestation as well as replacing or enhancing some functionalities now implemented with tamper-proof circuits


- Evaluate the limitations and added value of PUF-based security services compared to conventional hardware- and pure cryptography-based solutions: possible vs. impossible and efficient vs. inefficient - Determine the state-of-the-art of current PUF implementations and their possible future - Identify new areas of IoT security possibly solvable via using PUFs - Analysis of possible new capabilities gained, given PUF-enabled IoT elements (e.g. sensors, protected chips, etc.)


• State-of-the-art of PUF implementations: security and efficiency (esp. in IoT context: bandwidth, computational and energy) • State-of-the-art of PUF applications in HW- and IoT-security • Future directions of PUF implementations and applications • Map unsolved or inefficiently solved IoT security challenges to PUF promises • PUF possibilities as a cryptographic primitive

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