Quantum-Resistant Security for Software Updates on Low-power Networked Embedded Devices

Gustavo Banegas, Koen Zandberg, Adrian Herrmann, Emmanuel Baccelli, Benjamin Smith

As the Internet of Things (IoT) rolls out today to devices whose lifetime may well exceed a decade, conservative threat models should consider attackers with access to quantum computing power. The SUIT standard (specified by the IETF) defines a security architecture for IoT software updates, standardizing the metadata and the cryptographic tools-namely, digital signatures and hash functions-that guarantee the legitimacy of software updates. While the performance of SUIT has previously been evaluated in the pre-quantum context, it has not yet been studied in a post-quantum context. Taking the open-source implementation of SUIT available in RIOT as a case study, we overview post-quantum considerations, and quantum-resistant digital signatures in particular, focusing on lowpower, microcontroller-based IoT devices which have stringent resource constraints in terms of memory, CPU, and energy consumption. We benchmark a selection of proposed post-quantum signature schemes (LMS, Falcon, and Dilithium) and compare them with current pre-quantum signature schemes (Ed25519 and ECDSA). Our benchmarks are carried out on a variety of IoT hardware including ARM Cortex-M, RISC-V, and Espressif (ESP32), which form the bulk of modern 32-bit microcontroller architectures. We interpret our benchmark results in the context of SUIT, and estimate the real-world impact of post-quantum alternatives for a range of typical software update categories. CCS CONCEPTS $\bullet$ Computer systems organization $\rightarrow$ Embedded systems.

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