Response-Based Cryptographic Methods with Ternary Physical Unclonable Functions

  • Bertrand CambouEmail author
  • Christopher Philabaum
  • Duane Booher
  • Donald A. Telesca
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Networks and Systems book series (LNNS, volume 70)


Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) are used as hardware fingerprints for access control, and authentication in mobile and wireless networks and Internet of Things. However, it is challenging to use PUFs to extract cryptographic keys, because a single bit mismatch in the keys is not acceptable to most encryption algorithms. PUFs are aging; they are sensitive to temperature drifts, and other environmental effects. Successful implementation of PUFs, as key generators, requires power hungry error correcting schemes that add latency, and vulnerability to attacks such as differential power analysis. This work proposes methods to generate cryptographic keys directly from the un-corrected responses of the PUFs. The secure server, driving the network, manages the differences between the PUF responses and the original PUF challenges, through matching algorithms, mitigating the need to use heavy error correction schemes. In these methods, both the server and the client devices independently generate the exact same un-corrected responses of the PUF. These responses are therefore suitable for cryptographic protocols such as public key infrastructure or highly secure ledger protecting blockchain technology. The method presented in this paper, which is based on ternary PUFs, was successfully implemented and tested in a PC environment.


Mobile security Access control Cryptography 



The authors are thanking the students and faculty from Northern Arizona University, in particular Vince Rodriguez, Brandon Dunn, Julie Heynssens, and Ian Burke. We are also thanking the professionals of the Air Force Research lab of Rome, NY, and Alion science and Technology, who supported this effort.


(a) Contractor acknowledges Government’s support in the publication of this paper. This material is based upon work funded by the Information Directorate, under AFRL Contract No. FA8075-14-D-0014-0018. (b) Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of AFRL.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bertrand Cambou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Philabaum
    • 1
  • Duane Booher
    • 1
  • Donald A. Telesca
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Informatics Computing and Cyber SystemsNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Air Force Research LaboratoryInformation DirectorateRomeUSA

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