SPoTKD: A Protocol for Symmetric Key Distribution over Public Channels Using Self-Powered Timekeeping Devices

Mustafizur Rahman, Liang Zhou, Shantanu Chakrabartty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this paper, we propose a novel class of symmetric key distribution protocol that leverages basic security primitives offered by low-cost, hardware chipsets containing millions of synchronized self-powered timers. The keys are derived from the temporal dynamics of a physical, micro-scale time-keeping device which makes the keys immune to any potential side-channel attacks, malicious tampering, or snooping. Using the behavioral model of the self-powered timers, we first show that the derived key-strings can pass the randomness test as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) suite. The key-strings are then used in two SPoTKD (Self-Powered Timer Key Distribution) protocols that exploit the timer's dynamics as one-way functions: (a) protocol 1 facilitates secure communications between a user and a remote Server; and (b) protocol 2 facilitates secure communications between two users. In this paper, we investigate the security of these protocols under standard model and against different adversarial attacks. Using Monte-Carlo simulations, we also investigate the robustness of these protocols in the presence of real-world operating conditions and propose error-correcting SPoTKD protocols to mitigate these noise-related artifacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1159-1171
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
StatePublished - 2022


  • Key exchange
  • public-key cryptography
  • quantum key distribution
  • self-powered timer
  • symmetric-key cryptography
  • time-synchronization


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