The University of Southampton

ECS graduate endorses new approach to more secure networks

Published: 20 July 2009

In his final ECS project, Chris Shillitoe highlighted the fact that information can now be kept highly secure due to Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC).

Chris graduated on Friday 17 July with an MEng in Computer Science in the School of Electronics and Computer Science and will now go on to take up a position in the computer security industry; in his final project he looked at the application of ECC to secure networks made up of small limited resource devices.

ECC is an encryption technique based on elliptic curve theory that can be used to create cryptographic functions with a faster, smaller, and more efficient resource footprint. Because ECC helps to establish equivalent security with lower computing power and battery resource usage, it is becoming widely used for mobile applications.

Through his review, Chris found that in the last few years, ECC can be implemented successfully on limited resource devices such as sensor networks, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and identity cards, to make them secure.

'This will allow new areas to open up while keeping them highly secure,' said Chris. 'ECC has moved from being an academic's toy to being a definitive solution for the future.'

According to Chris, this means that, for example, doctors will be able to monitor the health of their patients from a distance through sensor networks without that information becoming available to any other party, and systems can be miniaturised and made more secure.

'By having reliable, high security protocols available, researchers can create and develop new implementations of wireless networks and RFID tags that would have previously been impossible due to the high resource demands that current security methods would have placed on the system,’ Chris added.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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