Public Key Cryptography

Authored by: Nathaniel Pinckney , David Money Harris , Nan Jiang , Kyle Kelley , Samuel Antao , Leonel Sousa

Circuits and Systems for Security and Privacy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781482236880
eBook ISBN: 9781482236897
Adobe ISBN:


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Almost all forms of data communication in the modern day require security transmission and storage. This can be due to requirements to secure data residing on the application platform or due to the support of communication protocols. In particular, private key and public key cryptography are used to guarantee secure communication of information. Private key cryptography uses a secret key distributed to sender and receiver prior to the communication to cipher and decipher data transmitted over an unsecured channel. The most widely used private key ciphering algorithm is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) [307]. The AES algorithm is discussed in detail in Chapter 3. In contrast, public key cryptography is based on no prior knowledge of a secret key by the sender and receiver before data transmission which requires complex mathematical functions that can be efficiently computed but are difficult to invert. Public key cryptography is based on a distributed method to create a secure communication channel using a mathematically computed secret. Public key cryptography algorithms support digital signatures that can be used to validate data from a given signature generated by the sender. Two popular public key cryptography algorithms in wide use today are the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) algorithm and the Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) algorithm. Efficient implementations of public key cryptography algorithms are continuously being explored and implemented largely as high-performance hardware accelerators to support the large computational demands. These accelerators typically take advantage of efficient parallelization and programmability to improve flexibility and enable configuration.

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