AuCPace: Efficient verifier-based PAKE protocol tailored for the IIoT 📺
Increasingly connectivity becomes integrated in products and devices that previously operated in a stand-alone setting. This observation holds for many consumer applications in the so-called "Internet of Things" (IoT) as well as for corresponding industry applications (IIoT), such as industrial process sensors. Often the only practicable means for authentication of human users is a password. The security of password-based authentication schemes frequently forms the weakest point of the security infrastructure. In this paper we first explain why a tailored protocol designed for the IIoT use case is considered necessary. The differences between IIoT and the conventional Internet use-cases result in largely modified threats and require special procedures for allowing both, convenient and secure use in the highly constrained industrial setting. Specifically the use of a verifier-based password-authenticated key-exchange (V-PAKE) protocol as a hedge against public-key-infrastructure (PKI) failures is considered important. Availability concerns for the case of failures of (part of) the communication infrastructure makes local storage of access credentials mandatory. The larger threat of physical attacks makes it important to use memory-hard password hashing. This paper presents a corresponding tailored protocol, AuCPace, together with a security proof within the Universal Composability (UC) framework considering fully adaptive adversaries. We also introduce a new security notion of partially augmented PAKE that provides specific performance advantages and makes them suitable for a larger set of IIoT applications. We also present an actual instantiation of our protocol, AuCPace25519, and present performance results on ARM Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M4 microcontrollers. Our implementation realizes new speed-records for PAKE and X25519 Diffie-Hellman for the ARM Cortex M4 architecture.
Making Password Authenticated Key Exchange Suitable for Resource-Constrained Industrial Control Devices
Connectivity becomes increasingly important also for small embedded systems such as typically found in industrial control installations. More and more use-cases require secure remote user access increasingly incorporating handheld based human machine interfaces, using wireless links such as Bluetooth. Correspondingly secure operator authentication becomes of utmost importance. Unfortunately, often passwords with all their well-known pitfalls remain the only practical mechanism.We present an assessment of the security requirements for the industrial setting, illustrating that offline attacks on passwords-based authentication protocols should be considered a significant threat. Correspondingly use of a Password Authenticated Key Exchange protocol becomes desirable. We review the significant challenges faced for implementations on resource-constrained devices.We explore the design space and shown how we succeeded in tailoring a particular variant of the Password Authenticated Connection Establishment (PACE) protocol, such that acceptable user interface responsiveness was reached even for the constrained setting of an ARM Cortex-M0+ based Bluetooth low-energy transceiver running from a power budget of 1.5 mW without notable energy buffers for covering power peak transients.