Analyzing the Energy Consumption of Security Protocols

Nachiketh R. Potlapally, Srivaths Ravi, Anand Raghunathan, Niraj K. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

24 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 the protocol level (such as cipher suites, authentication mechanisms, and transaction sizes, etc.) and the 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)
Pages (from-to)30-35
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design
StatePublished - 2003
EventProceedings of the 2003 International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design, (ISLPED'03) - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Aug 25 2003Aug 27 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


  • 3DES
  • AES
  • Cryptographic algorithms
  • DES
  • DSA
  • Diffle-Hellman
  • ECC
  • Embedded system
  • Energy analysis
  • Handheld
  • Low-power
  • RSA
  • SSL
  • Security
  • Security protocols


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