SharkSSL secures real-time, connected LPC1000-based devices

Toni McConnel

July 02, 2012

Toni McConnelJuly 02, 2012

Real Time Logic has extended its cryptographic engine SharkSSL to the LPC1000, an NXP ARM Cortex-M-based microcontroller. Tailored for machine-to-machine (M2M), Internet-connected devices, the LPC1000 is ideal for protecting sensor, industrial, and infrastructure networks from attack.

SharkSSL delivers embedded security and embedded encryption tailored for devices. Implementing SSL 3.0, TSL 1.0, and TLS 1.1 as well as encryption algorithms AES, DES, 3DES, ARC4, SHA1, MD5, RSA, and DH, the SharkSSL crypto software library can be optimized for processors with hardware encryption engines, partial support, or with no hardware encryption support, such as the ARM Cortex-M. SharkSSL’s 20-kB footprint not only weighs in 50 times smaller than OpenSSL, but also represents the smallest SSL/TLS stack available for embedded security.

Designed to secure communication and management of embedded devices and dedicated M2M applications, SharkSSL is transport agnostic. While most SSL stacks are tightly coupled to the TCP transport protocol, SharkSSL can be used with any other transport protocol, whether TCP or a more lightweight—and even proprietary—stack that an embedded system or sensor network may employ, such as Zigbee, or for common applications, such as email or web encryption, file transfer, voice over IP and wireless security authentication.

The SharkSSL library has been optimized for high performance and efficiency in C code, achieving AES encryption at 750 kB/s and RSA encryption in as little as 18 ms on a Cortex-M3-based core running at 50 MHz. As well, the SharkSSL stack has been designed to be easily augmented using selective in-line assembly code—a feature most useful for the RSA and Diffie-Hellman key-exchange protocols, which have a larger code base.

Hardware savvy, the SharkSSL library can be readily adapted to take advantage of hardware encryption accelerators. SharkSSL implementations using hardware acceleration have demonstrated performance improvements of up to 50 times for Triple-DES encryption as compared to unaccelerated performance.

Because it is available as source code, SharkSSL code can be implemented on any processor off the shelf. The SharkSSL library has been successfully deployed on ARM, Freescale, and PowerPC-based FPGA architectures. It can also take advantage of the encryption acceleration in any Freescale microcontroller; other accelerators can be accommodated upon request.

Out-of-the-box operating system (OS) support includes INTEGRITY, MQX, SMX, ThreadX, VxWorks, EBSnet, rtplatform, uCLinux, Linux and Windows; it can also be used in bare-metal (no OS) configurations. Multi-threading is available for added performance when using an OS that supports multi-threading.

SharkSSL comes with full source code and royalty-free licenses starting at $8,000.

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