Analyzing the energy consumption of security protocols

N. R. Potlapally, S. Ravi, A. Raghunathan, N. K. Jha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

180 Scopus citations


Security is critical to a wide range of wireless data applications and services. While several security mechanisms and protocols have been developed in the context of the wired Internet, many new challenges arise due to the unique characteristics of battery powered embedded systems. In this work, we focus on an important constraint of such devices - battery life - and examine how it is impacted by the use of security protocols. We present a comprehensive analysis of the energy requirements of a wide range of cryptographic algorithms that are used as building blocks in security protocols. Furthermore, we study the energy consumption requirements of the most popular transport-layer security protocol SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive analysis of the energy requirements of SSL. For our studies, we have developed a measurement-based experimental testbed that consists of an iPAQ PDA connected to a wireless LAN and running Linux, a PC-based data acquisition system for real-time current measurement, the OpenSSL implementation of the SSL protocol, and parametrizable SSL client and server test programs. We investigate the impact of various parameters at protocol level (such as cipher suites, authentication mechanisms, transaction sizes, etc.) and cryptographic algorithm level (cipher modes, strength) on overall energy consumption for secure data transactions. Based on our results, we discuss various opportunities for realizing energy-efficient implementations of security protocols. We believe such investigations to be an important first step towards addressing the challenges of energy efficient security for battery-constrained systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationISLPED 2003 - Proceedings of the 2003 International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)158113682X
StatePublished - 2003
Event2003 International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design, ISLPED 2003 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Aug 25 2003Aug 27 2003

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design
ISSN (Print)1533-4678


Conference2003 International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design, ISLPED 2003
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


  • Batteries
  • Communication system security
  • Cryptographic protocols
  • Cryptography
  • Current measurement
  • Data security
  • Energy consumption
  • Energy efficiency
  • Power system security
  • System testing


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