GPS-free synchronized pseudo-random number generators for internet-of-things

Mustafizur Rahman, Shantanu Chakrabartty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Securing wireless communications in internet-of-things (IoT) requires both generation and synchronization of random numbers in real-time. However, resource constraints on an IoT device limit the use of computationally intensive random number generators and the use of global positioning systems (GPS) for synchronization. In this paper, we propose a synchronized pseudo-random number generator (SPRNG) that uses a combination of a fast, low-complexity linear-feedback-shift-register (LFSR) based PRNG and a slow but secure, synchronized seed generator based on self-powered timers. Methods: A prototype synchronized self-powered timer (SSPT) array was fabricated in a standard silicon process and was used to generate dynamic random seeds for the LFSR. The SSPTs use quantum-mechanical tunneling of electrons to operate without any external power and are practically secure against tampering, snooping, and side-channel attacks (both power and electromagnetic). Results: In this work, we explore protocols to periodically and securely generate random bits using the self-powered timers for seeding the LFSR. We also show that the time-varying random seeds extend and break the LFSR periodic cycles, thus making it difficult for an attacker to predict the random output or the random seed. Using the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) test suite we verify the randomness of the measured seeds from the fabricated ensemble of SSPTs together with the random bit sequences generated by a software-seeded LFSR. Discussions: In this modality, the proposed SPRNG could be used as a trusted platform module (TPM) on IoTs and used for verifying and authenticating secure transactions (e.g., software upgrades). Since the SPRNG system does not require access to GPS for synchronization, therefore it could be used in many resource-constrained and adversarial environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1157629
JournalFrontiers in Computer Science
StatePublished - 2023


  • IoTs
  • LFSR
  • PRNG
  • quantum-tunneling
  • self-powered
  • synchronized-PRNG


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